A public interest litigation in the Bombay high court has questioned
the clearance allegedly granted by the Airports Authority of India to
the height of about 200 buildings around the Juhu aerodrome and demanded that those exceeding the permissible heights under the Air Safety Regulations be demolished.
"The AAI has given illegal height clearance for about 200 buildings in
violation of their own Air Safety Regulations and the rules of the
Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)," said the PIL, which seeks
judicial enforcement of right to life of residents and passengers as it
says pilots are flying blind relying on an outdated Obstacle Mapping of
2000. "If any aircraft crashes into one of these buildings, the result
will be catastrophe," said petitioner Yeshwanth Shenoy , an advocate.
Based on International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards,
the DGCA regulations say a residential building within a radius of 4km
of an international airport should be 56.27 m high and that within 2.5
km of the Juhu Airport should be 49.87 m or 15-floor high. For
commercial buildings, the height should be even less. The DGCA specifies
that in overlapping areas, the lower height shall prevail.
Highlighting air safety concerns, the PIL has demanded that AAI be
directed not to grant any more clearances for excess heights. Expected
to come up in the HC on Thursday , the PIL also wants the HC to direct
the AAI to furnish safety audits of Juhu and the international airport
from 2005 and order criminal action against AAI officers and others who
allegedly colluded to contravene air safety regulations to allow illegal
heights for buildings that directly put people's lives in danger.
"Because of high demand for real estate around the 10km radius of these
airports, a lobby of developers have been trying to get more than the
permitted heights," said the PIL. Their efforts, it alleged, in
"collusion with some top AAI officials" resulted in the 2011 Negi
report. The report declared a Juhu runway non-operational and also
allowed for the higher of the overlapping Inner Horizontal Surface
heights to prevail, negating the existing air safety regulations. "The
Negi Report by former AAI executive director JMS Negi is now a part of
investigation by both the CBI and the CAG for criminality and
corruption," the PIL said questioning if an aeronautical study can
"override air safety regulations".