Actual culprit not yet identified in city’s hoarding collapse case

Sushant Ranjan
Saturday, 16 March 2019

The committee has submitted the report; however, only two staffers faced inquiry. The railway administration had assured action against the culprits but even after six months, the actual culprit has not been identified. 

PUNE: Six months after a giant hoarding at the Shahir Amar Shaikh Chowk, popularly known as Juna Bazaar Chowk, collapsed and killed four persons, the inquiry committee formed by Central Railway to probe the circumstances that led to the incident held the advertising contractor, who had installed the hoarding and another contractor, who was hired to remove the hoarding structure when it fell, ‘primarily responsible’ for the mishap. 

The committee has submitted the report; however, only two staffers faced inquiry. The railway administration had assured action against the culprits but even after six months, the actual culprit has not been identified. 

On October 5, 2018, a 40-ft x 40 ft metal structure, part of a hoarding installed on Railway land, collapsed on the road, crushing vehicles waiting for the red light to turn green. Four persons died and 11 others were injured. 

Soon after the accident, railway authorities promised to conduct an inquiry “within 15 days” and ensured that “no one who is responsible for the mishap will be spared”. The panel comprised AK Singh, Deputy Chief Engineer (Bridge); Shiv Kumar, Deputy Chief Safety Officer (Engineering); KV Thomas, Deputy Chief Commercial Manager (Claims), all from Mumbai Zonal Office and D Vikas, Senior Divisional Security Commissioner from Pune. 

A source from the Railway said the inquiry committee has submitted the report. The two staffers - Jr Engineer Sanjay Vinshudev Singh (42) and blacksmith Pandurang Nivrutti Vanare (57) are facing the inquiry.

The report has not mentioned any other name. While the private contractors have been held primarily responsible for the accident, some Railway officials were found to have failed to perform ‘supervision duties’. 

The contractor hired to remove the hoarding and the advertising agency, which had installed the hoarding have been held primarily responsible. The source said the contract was given by the Railway and those who gave it are also responsible for the incident. 

Interestingly, the Bombay High Court had granted Abdul Faqih of Caption Advertising, which had installed the hoardings, bail in November 2018 observing that, prima facie, he can’t be held responsible for the mishap.

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