Thursday, July 3, 2014

buildings near Juhu airport-"If any aircraft crashes into one of these buildings, the result will be catastrophe,

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200 buildings near Juhu airport: PIL questions AAI's nod for building heights

MUMBAI: 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judicial enforcement of right to life of residents and passengers as it says pilots are flying blind relying on an outdated Obstacle Mapping of 2000.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".