Mumbai: BMC shrugs off blame on AAI for giving OCs

After the HC order, BMC says the builders are granted occupation certificates only after the Airport Authority of India (AAI) grants them an NOC

In a 2015/16 survey, 317 structures were found violating safety height
In a 2015/16 survey, 317 structures were found violating safety height

In what is sure to raise hackles of most real estate developers, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday ordered action against buildings that could be possible threats to incoming and outgoing flights at Mumbai Airport. Now, the BMC, on Thursday, issued a clarification that the occupation certificate (OC) for such structures were given only after the Airport Authority of India (AAI) granted a no-objection certificate (NOC) to builders.

Court ruling
On Wednesday, the high court ordered the demolition or reduction of height for around 427 residential and commercial buildings that have been identified as having violated prescribed norms. The decision came after a PIL by Yeshwanth Shenoy, that raised concerns about the safety of flights due to extended building heights. Now, the High court has given Airport Authority of India (AAI), Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), BMC and other planning authorities two months' time to get a handle on the situation.

Also read: Kerala lawyer explains his motive behind filing PIL for demolishing illegal structures around Mumbai airport

As per the court, according to a survey conducted in 2010-11 by AAI and Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL), there were 110 structures found as obstruction in flight path. After these finding, the DGCA had issued a notice to these structures, however, no action was taken. In another survey carried out in 2015-16, 317 structures were found violating safety height. Now, the court has directed DGCA to take appropriate action within two months.

In its no-nonsense order, a division bench headed by Justice VM Kanade said violators must be dealt with "ruthlessly" as their buildings pose a major safety threat and obstruct flight path. "There is no point feeling bad for the developers of these buildings or its residents. The authorities cannot just sit and wait for an accident to occur," Justice Kanade said.

BMC claims
A senior civic official from the BMC, on condition of anonymity, said, "We are aware of the development, but have not got the order copy yet. Once we do, we will send it to the legal department for their opinion and then decide on action. The BMC does not carry out any such survey of buildings and the figures could have been given by AAI. Also, since these buildings fall in the vicinity of flight operation, AAI plays a crucial role in giving permission to builders. If there is any violation in height, then AAI is supposed to take action or we can take action against buildings in coordination with them."

With this order, buildings in areas like Vile Parle, Santacruz, Andheri, Kurla, Chembur, Ghatkopar could soon face action.

Another senior official from BMC's building proposal department said, "A few years ago, following a complaint, we had conducted a similar survey of buildings near the airport and about 30 buildings were found to be violating norms, which we demolished."

Currently, AAI approval is required for buildings of any height within a 3-km radius of the airport. Beyond that, different height limits are set by AAI. However, despite repeated attempts, AAI officials could not be reached for comment.

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