Illegal ad hoardings - deadly threat to people's lives and property

Illegal hoardings and billboards have claimed the lives of many of citizens, over the past few years

By  Akanksha NagarMay 15, 2024 1:41 PM
Illegal ad hoardings - deadly threat to people's lives and property
The menace of illegal hoardings and unchecked rise of billboards all over the country creates not just visual pollution but poses a serious and deadly threat to people's lives and property. (Image sourced via News18)

The innumerable advertisements and hoardings that dot every city in the country have already become an eyesore for many, maybe except for the advertisers. In one of the biggest tragedies of hoardings crashing down, fourteen persons were killed and 70 were injured in Mumbai on May 13.

The Mumbai incident, unfortunately, is not the first one. The menace of illegal hoardings and unchecked rise of billboards all over the country creates not just visual pollution but poses a serious and deadly threat to people's lives and property.

May 7, 2024: 200 sq ft two illegal hoardings came crashing down in Karnataka

Two big hoardings came crashing down amid the rains in the Anekal area of Bengaluru. One of the banners was more than 200 sq ft in size. Fortunately no one was hurt. Another advertisement board fell on a parked car and the vehicle was completely damaged.

During the incident, locals pointed out that illegal hoardings on buildings and medians of roads are ubiquitous and have become a big money-making business backed by political clout in the area. In the last month alone, five such hoardings had come crashing down amid the rains.

Aggrieved residents approached many authorities over the last couple of years regarding illegal hoardings and billboards but there has been no respite. They have also approached the Chief Secretary of Karnataka but to no avail. According to them, the hoarding mafia charges more than Rs 2 lakh on monthly rental. Back in 2016, a report showed that, in Bengaluru alone, out of over 6000 hoardings 4000 were found to be illegal.

April 17, 2023: 5 people died in Pune after iron hoarding fell; agency did not follow safety norms

At least five people died in the Ravet Kivale area of Pimpri-Chinchwad township in Pune district of Maharashtra last year after an iron hoarding fell on them. According to the police, the victims were seeking shelter from strong winds and huddled under the hoarding along the Mumbai-Pune highway.

The incident was a grim reminder of the 2018 hoarding collapse in neighbouring Pune that killed four persons. The incident occurred on October 6 when a hoarding that was 40 feet tall fell on vehicles on the adjacent road, killing four people, including a 40-year-old man who was returning home after immersing his wife’s ashes. The collapse damaged five auto-rickshaws, a two-wheeler, and a car. Five people were injured. Two Central Railways (CR) employees, a junior engineer, and his assistant were arrested in connection with the incident. The railways had awarded a contract to an outdoor advertisement agency to put up hoardings on the railway premises. But as the agency did not follow safety norms, it was asked to remove the structures. Since the agency did not dismantle the structures, the railways hired a contractor to remove them. It was being dismantled when the structure collapsed.

June 2, 2023: 3 workers died in Coimbatore after a hoarding crashed on them

Three workers were crushed to death when a huge hoarding that they were erecting collapsed at Thekkalur near Karumathampatti in Coimbatore district, last year. The police said the workers came under the heavy steel panels of the hoarding that crashed in the impact of a sudden gust of wind and rain. Local residents said the hoarding of a jewellery showroom was being replaced with that of a furniture company when the incident occurred.

While the police examined whether the contractor had started the work after obtaining the structural stability certificate from the authorities concerned, as per the norms, the structural stability certificate for roadside hoardings has to be renewed every year.

June 12, 2019: Hoardings crash in Mumbai injuring two

A cement hoarding sheet uprooted by gusty winds crashed on a pedestrian outside Churchgate station, injuring him seriously, last year, amid the cyclone formation in Arabian Sea. He was rushed to the G.T. Hospital near Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharashtra Terminus where he succumbed after an hour while under treatment. On the same day, in the second incident, a heavy acrylic hoarding was ripped off a skywalk and crashed on three women pedestrians in Bandra west.

#FreeOurSkylines - Fight against illegal ad hoardings: A terrible tragedy struck on May 13 after a 100-foot-tall illegal billboard fell at a petrol pump in Ghatkopar during dust storms and unseasonal rains in Mumbai. The killer hoarding caused the deaths of over a dozen people and injured many others. The catastrophic incident outraged citizens who have been dealing with the menace of illegal ad hoardings. The people don't want just answers but solutions, as they turn to civic authorities, advertising agencies, industry bodies, brand marketers, and media owners, to take responsibility and fight against the menace of illegal advertising hoardings. So speak up and join the #FreeOurSkylines movement. Write to us at Storyboard18@nw18.com with your concerns and views, and let’s make our cities safer together.

First Published on May 15, 2024 1:06 PM

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