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BMC sets up expert panel to frame guidelines for billboards in Mumbai

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MUMBAI, May 16: The Mumbai civic body has set up an eight-member panel that includes experts from IIT Bombay for developing comprehensive guidelines concerning billboards and outdoor advertising in the city, an official said on Wednesday.

The guidelines will balance the “aesthetic, economic, and regulatory aspects” of outdoor advertising in Mumbai, said the official from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, citing a BMC notification of May 8 concerning the committee.

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On May 13, a giant illegal hoarding in the city’s Ghatkopar area fell on a petrol pump during gusty winds and unseasonal rains, leaving 17 dead so far and over 70 injured.

Rakesh Kumar, an ex-employee of National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), is the environment expert on the panel, while IIT Bombay’s Prof. Avjit Maji, Prof. Nagendra Rao Velaga, besides Prof. Shreekumar from the department of Industrial Design, are other members.

BMC Additional Commissioner (City) Ashwini Joshi will head the panel, which also has Joint Police Commissioner (Traffic) Anil Kumbhare, BMC’s Deputy Commissioner (Special) Kiran Dighavkar and Superintendent of Licence Anil Kate as members, the official said.

“The emergence of digital hoardings with high-resolution animations brings forth a new set of challenges. It necessitates a comprehensive assessment of associated risks, such as driver distraction on expressways, health implications of placement in residential areas, and environmental impacts like light pollution,” reads the BMC notification.

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A multi-disciplinary committee “will delve into the environmental, health, and traffic safety implications of granting permissions” of digital hoardings, it further states.

According to BMC officials, the panel is expected to submit a report in one or two months.

In the wake of the Ghatkopar tragedy, the BMC has announced several steps to avoid such incidents.

Civic chief Bhushan Gagrani met all stakeholder agencies on May 16 wherein he stressed that compliance with the standards prescribed by BMC and Mumbai traffic police was mandatory for everyone irrespective of whether advertisement hoardings are on government or private land.

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The 120 feet x 120 feet Ghatkopar hoarding had come up on land belonging to the Government Railway Police (GRP) in the Chheda Nagar locality.

In a release issued the same day, BMC said that the civic chief had asked the Central Railway and Western Railway to remove oversized hoardings from their premises.

Gagrani also said that no new billboard would be allowed in Mumbai until a new hoarding policy was in place, as per the release.

During the meeting the civic chief, traffic officials had also raised concerns over digital advertising billboards, saying these hoardings distract citizens and motorists, especially in the dark. (PTI)




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