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BMC forms a panel to establish guidelines for billboards in Mumbai following the hoarding collapse

The panel includes IIT Bombay experts and an ex-employee of National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI).

An official announced on May 22, 2024, that a committee of eight members, which includes experts from IIT Bombay, has been established by the Mumbai civic body to create detailed regulations for billboards and outdoor advertising in the city, as reported by ET.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's guidelines will address the "aesthetic, economic, and regulatory aspects" of outdoor advertising in Mumbai, as outlined in a BMC notification dated May 8 regarding the committee.

As of now, 17 people have died and more than 70 have been injured after a large illegal billboard collapsed onto a petrol pump in Ghatkopar due to strong winds and unexpected rain on May 13. Rakesh Kumar, who previously worked at the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, now serves as the environmental specialist in the group. Also on the panel are Avjit Maji and Nagendra Rao Velaga from IIT Bombay, along with Shreekumar from the Industrial Design department.

The panel will be led by BMC additional commissioner (City) Ashwini Joshi along with joint police commissioner (Traffic) Anil Kumbhare, BMC's deputy commissioner (Special) Kiran Dighavkar, and superintendent of Licence Anil Kate as members, as per the official.

The arrival of digital billboards featuring high-quality animations presents a fresh array of difficulties. The BMC notification states that a thorough evaluation of related risks is required, such as driver distraction on highways, health effects of installation in residential neighbourhoods, and environmental consequences like light pollution.

A diverse committee will examine the potential impacts on the environment, health, and traffic safety of allowing digital billboards, according to the statement. As per BMC authorities, the committee is anticipated to present a report within one to two months. Following the Ghatkopar tragedy, the BMC has revealed multiple measures to prevent similar incidents.

On May 16, Bhushan Gagrani, the head of the city government, held a meeting with various groups involved, emphasising that all must follow the standards set by BMC and Mumbai traffic police, regardless of whether billboards are on government or private property. The Ghatkopar hoarding, measuring 120 feet x 120 feet, was installed on GRP land in Chheda Nagar.

In a statement released on the same day, BMC reported that the city's chief official had requested the Central Railway and Western Railway to take down large billboards from their properties. Gagrani further mentioned that no additional billboards would be permitted in Mumbai until a new hoarding policy was implemented. In the meeting, traffic officials also expressed worries about digital advertising billboards, noting that they can be distracting for citizens and motorists, especially at night.

Image credits: NDTV Profit

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