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Author Warned of Mumbai Billboard Tragedy 8 Years Prior

Photo : PTI

Tragedy struck Mumbai as a massive billboard collapsed onto a petrol pump during Monday's storm, claiming the lives of fourteen individuals and leaving many others injured. The incident brought to light a chilling prophecy made by author Amitav Ghosh eight years prior, warning of the potential dangers posed by Mumbai's billboards during cyclonic events.

In his book 'The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable', Ghosh had ominously predicted that the city's numerous billboards could transform into lethal projectiles under cyclone-force winds, posing a grave threat to the towering glass-wrapped structures that dominate Mumbai's skyline. His prescient words, echoing concerns about climate change and urban vulnerability, have now assumed tragic relevance in the aftermath of the billboard disaster.

Reflecting on his earlier warning in the wake of the devastating incident, Ghosh took to social media to express his sorrow and emphasize the urgent need for action to mitigate such risks. Despite Monday's storm being relatively mild compared to a major cyclone, the catastrophic consequences underscored the imperative of reducing the proliferation of billboards across Mumbai.

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The storm's fury unleashed chaos as the colossal billboard, measuring 120 x 120 feet, collapsed onto the unsuspecting victims at the petrol pump, trapping over a hundred people beneath its debris. While rescue operations are ongoing, the toll of human lives lost serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need for accountability and preventive measures.

Amid mounting scrutiny, civic officials revealed that the ill-fated billboard was erected without proper authorization, raising questions about regulatory oversight and safety standards in the city's urban infrastructure. Legal action has been initiated against individuals associated with the firm responsible for installing the billboard, with charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

As Mumbai grapples with the aftermath of this tragic event, calls for stricter enforcement of building regulations and urban planning guidelines have grown louder. The incident serves as a somber wake-up call, prompting authorities and policymakers to reevaluate the city's vulnerability to natural disasters and prioritize measures to enhance resilience and public safety.

May 15, 2024 3:33 p.m. 7826

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