The Bombay High Court this week slammed the authorities for the presence of concrete barriers such as buildings and other structures in dangerous violation of height norms near the Mumbai airport.
The court pulled up Mumbai’s suburban district collector while hearing a public interest litigation filed by a lawyer on the dangers posed by high-rise buildings near the airport.
As the court next hears on August 22, News18 looks into the security issue.
Violations and risks thereof
The issue has reached the courts following a PIL filed by advocate Yashwant Shenoy, who claimed to have done extensive work on aviation security. Shenoy told the court that both the aerodrome operator and the DGCA have filed affidavits stating that there are more than 400 obstacles in the approach area of the airport, which is a zero obstacle zone.
According to the petition, the violation of height norms directly endangers thousands of people around the Mumbai airport. “Any aircraft impacting any of these illegal structures can lead to disaster and the Ghat Cooper accident is just a reminder of how things can go wrong and how it can affect our lives. “
On June 28, 2018, a King Air C-90 charter plane crashed into a construction site during a test flight in the eastern suburb of Ghat Koper. Four people on board the plane – two pilots and two aircraft maintenance engineers, as well as a passenger – were killed.
What do the rules say?
As per the application, the Aircraft (Demolition of Obstructions Caused by Buildings and Trees, etc.) Rules, 1994 require the demolition of obstructions to ensure safety of aviation.
Requesting strict compliance with the rule, the petition added: “Furthermore, it is the duty of the aerodrome operator to conduct periodic ‘obstacle’ surveys. Apart from the approach area, the 20 km radius of the airport There is a restricted zone and the aerodrome operator has to conduct a survey and is bound to remove all obstructions as per rules.
Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) has informed the High Court that as per a survey conducted in 2010, Mumbai Airport is surrounded by a total of 137 obstacles in the form of building expansion and other structures.
Out of these 137 buildings, final orders have been issued in 63 cases. Appeals have been filed in nine of these cases and six buildings have complied. The remaining 48 structures need to be demolished immediately as no compliance or appeal has been filed.
Action was ordered.
The High Court has now ordered the Suburban District Collector of Mumbai to explain how he proposes to demolish the remaining 48 structures. A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Dutta and Justice MS Karnik also pulled up the Collector for trying to shift the responsibility of the demolition to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). The judges noted that there was no law preventing the collector from initiating the demolition process.
The court said that the BMC and the police would provide assistance to the collector for the demolition. It also advised the authorities to cut off electricity and water supply to buildings that have been issued notices for height violations.
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