mid-day editorial: Root out corruption from the flight path

Yesterday, this paper ran a front-page story on a Kerala-based lawyer who is a petitioner in a case calling for the demolition of buildings over the certified height norms, which are in the flight path of airplanes taking off and landing at Mumbai airport. Most of these buildings are residential.

The petitioner's PIL has resulted in the Bombay High Court passing an order on Wednesday asking the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and other agencies to demolish or reduce the height of around 427 buildings in violation of norms. And this, the court says has to be done within the next two months.

While one is certain there are going to be appeals and the process may drag on, this really should make people sit up and think how deeply rooted corruption is. Investigations need to start about why these buildings were allowed to come up in violation of height norms in the first place. If the project violated norms, how was it given permission? Who cleared this and who were they in collusion with?

While demolitions are one matter, a sweep or clearing the corridors of power of corruption needs to be expedited now. These developers may have flouted norms elsewhere in the city too.

While this controversy is simmering, talk about another airport at Navi Mumbai is on. In this case, we need to be extra careful that no tall buildings come up near that airport in the first place, so that this shame and rigmarole of first allowing buildings and then saying we must demolish a part of them is avoided completely.

Meanwhile, one's heart goes out to residents who were ignorant of all rules while buying their homes, and will now live in so much tension. Yet, this is a stellar example of how deep rooted the corruption malaise is, and a good place to at least begin to try and stamp it out.

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