Portions of 48 high-rise buildings near Mumbai International Airport to be demolished 

 The Bombay High Court on Friday asked the Mumbai Suburban District Collector to demolish 48 high-rise buildings near the Mumbai International Airport for violation of height norms. The HC order came in compliance with the orders of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice MS Karnik also pulled up the collector for trying to shift the responsibility of demolition to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and said the collector has to do something about this “menace” (obstacles near the airport).

The Bombay High Court asked the Mumbai Suburban District Collector to demolish 48 high-rise buildings near the Mumbai International Airport for violation of height norms.

The collector (suburbs), in response to a Bombay high court poser on obstacles to the city airport approach area on July 25 2022, said the BMC should carry out the demolition in Mumbai as it is the planning authority under the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966. The BMC pointed out that under the Aircraft Rules 1994, it is the collector’s responsibility.

The judges agreed and said the 1994 rules empower the district collector to remove obstructions. Friday’s HC instruction to the collector was passed after a 2019 PIL by advocate Yeshwanth Shenoy on the danger highrises near the airport pose to aircraft. Ironically, the Airports Authority of India’s guesthouse is among them.

The orange path is called the FUNNEL ZONE or APPROACH PATH.

It is an imaginary area that extends outwards and upwards conically from a runway end. The cone-shaped area must be free of obstacles for the safe passage of jets to/from a runway.

There are 48 obstacles in total. Most of them are in the funnel zone and can be divided into two categories. The first one includes the top portions of buildings in Vile parle (E) and Santacruz (W). And the second one includes Shanties houses built on top of hills in Kurla, Ghatkopar.

The illegal portion of most buildings is between 0.5-6 m high. Many are water tanks, TV antennas, iron pipes, hoardings, etc. On hilltops, entire shanties are illegal. Among them are the minar of a mosque in Kurla, a mosque and a temple in Narayan Nagar, Ghatkopar, shaties in Asalpha, huts and a mosque on JarinMari hill.

HC seeks a flight path demolition plan.

Other obstacles include a 4.2m portion of a footbridge in Sambhaji Nagar on WEH, apart from an antenna and a light on a hoarding. Parts of erstwhile Kingfisher House on the highway, including antenna and hoarding, are illegal. AAI Guest House at New Airport Colony, Vile Parle (East). It is 3.3m illegal, which means an entire floor.

The focus now is on the 48 structures that will be cut to size, but the PIL about the safety of aircraft has brought back nightmares for all residents who live under the shadow of flights operating from the airport. The HC has asked the BMC and the police to render necessary assistance to the Collector.

The court will pass appropriate orders about the other obstacles identified by the MIAL from 2010 till now after the reply affidavit of the Collector is filed on August 22.

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