• Saturday, May 18, 2024


An Indian author had warned about Mumbai’s ‘deadly’ billboards many years ago

Cyclone winds will turn thousands of billboards that encrust the city into deadly projectiles, Amitav Ghosh had written in a non-fiction book in 2016.

Indian author Amitav Ghosh in 2006 (Photo credit should read JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP via Getty Images) and the site in Mumbai where a giant billboard collapsed on a fuel station, killing at least 14 people. (Photo by IMTIYAZ SHAIKH/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

AN award-winning Indian author warned about the towering billboards in Mumbai, India’s Maximum City, nearly a decade ago and it proved to be prophetic earlier this week when a gigantic hoarding crashed on a fuel station in the city amid gutsy winds and led to death of 14 people and injuries to several more. He had called them “deadly projectiles” in times of a cyclone and the reality reflected just what he said, even if there was no cyclone.

Amitav Ghosh, who has wrote extensively on climate change, wrote in his 2016 non-fiction book ‘The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable’, “Many of the dwellings in Mumbai’s informal settlements have roofs made of metal sheets and corrugated iron; cyclone-force winds will turn these, and the thousands of billboards that encrust the city, into deadly projectiles, hurling them with great force at the glass-wrapped towers that soar above the city.”

The 67-year-old took to X on Monday (13), when the tragedy took place and it was found that the killer billboard was an illegal one, to recount his warning and called for urgent steps to cut back on such installations. A report was filed against an advertising agency over the incident and the owner had reportedly gone missing.

Read: Owner of killer hoarding in Mumbai goes missing; has a tainted past

“In The Great Derangement I wrote that in the event of a major storm ‘the thousands of billboards that encrust’ Mumbai would turn ‘into deadly projectiles’. The recent storm was nowhere near as damaging as a major cyclone would be. Mumbai really needs to cut back drastically on billboards,” he said on X.

The massive billboard, measuring 120 by 120 feet, collapsed on the fuel station, trapping more than 100 people, many of whom were inside vehicles that were crushed. Fourteen bodies were recovered while rescue work was still underway.

An investigative report by The Indian Express said that Mumbai’s civic authorities had red-marked the giant structure for more than a year over non-payment of license fee to damage to trees and lack of required approval. Yet, no action was reportedly taken other than serving notices.

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