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The fall of a large illegal billboard in the wake of a storm in Mumbai that left 16 people dead and 75 wounded (all bystanders) has shown a concerning connection between corruption, incompetence, and regulatory failure. The catastrophe highlights the human cost of institutional negligence and duty neglect.

The billboard was built in flagrant disregard for local regulations, weighing 250 tons and significantly larger than allowed. Two years ago, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) expressed concerns over the hoarding, but no significant steps were taken to mitigate the issue. The hazardous complacency and potential corruption in municipal circles are shown by the refusal to enforce rules or demolish the unlawful construction. Regretfully, there are more such incidents. Three workmen were instantly killed when a massive hoarding on a highway close to Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu fell in June of last year. According to the police, it was put there without the local body’s permission. A young lady in Chennai perished in 2019 when an unauthorized banner fell onto her. These kinds of events indicate a pattern of carelessness and oversight by the authorities that endanger life.

The advertising firm behind the billboard is not the only one with responsibility. The BMC is largely to blame for this infraction, as it was ignored despite being made aware of and warned about in the past. It is a necessary but inadequate step to file a case of culpable murder against Bhavesh Bhinde, the owner of the advertising business. All parties must bear full responsibility for this avoidable tragedy, ensuring total accountability.

The underlying regulatory rot cannot be addressed by CM Eknath Shinde’s offer of compensation. An update to the laws controlling outdoor advertising and other dangerous constructions is warranted in light of this accident. To guarantee the protection of the nation’s population, strict enforcement of regulations, thorough safety audits, and zero tolerance for infractions are required.

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