Builders used dubious aviation report to gain 'higher ground'
While the fate of a controversial study report by certain Airports Authority of India (AAI) officials — recommending shutting down a runway at Juhu aerodrome — rests with the Government of India, MiD DAY has learnt that certain developers attempted to use the information to gain additional height for their proposed projects in the upscale neighbourhood.
We had reported yesterday (‘AAI officers wanted to shut down Juhu runway to help buildings stand tall’) about the aviation safety department of AAI stating in an official correspondence that two officials — JMS Negi (now retired, but working as a consultant for special projects) and VK Dutta — have blatantly lied in their report to the appellate committee of aviation ministry.
The aviation safety wing forwarded it’s findings to the BMC, saying, “A copy of this is also being sent to the municipal commissioner of BMC, Shri Subodh Kumar with a request that he take necessary action, by giving wide publicity to this issue and warn builders/developers about the illegalities and irregularities in the Juhu IHS report.”
Height of corruption
The aviation safety report also carries the reference of a particular building that allegedly tried to take the advantage of this controversial study. “A case in point is one wherein the developer has paid in a hurry Rs 2 lakh to AAI to avail of the benefit of the Juhu IHS report, for up to 56.27 m above mean sea level (AMSL), yet had to ultimately demolish the floor within a height of 49.87 m (AMSL) as the municipal commissioner had detected the violations of FSI norms,” the findings say.
Top sources in AAI told this newspaper that the inner horizontal surface (IHS) study report was quoted as reference for getting extra height for buildings by several developers, but they are not sure whether they got the no-objection certificate (NOC) or not. “After the IHS report, many proposals were submitted in which the developers quoted the report, seeking extra height,” quipped a source.
When contacted, general manager, AAI (Western Region), VSP Chinson said, “I don’t think anyone will make such references. There are guidelines to be followed in all NOC cases and we are following those guidelines.”
Rahul Shewale, chairman of the civic standing committee, maintained that if any NOC is given in reference to the study report, then it is inappropriate. “It is wrong if the civic body has approved building plans near the airport. Ideally, the civic building proposal department should cross-check before giving NOC to a new building plan especially in the vicinity of the airport,” he said.