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Why is AAI's decision relaxing height restriction for buildings near Navi Mumbai airport illegal? Bombay HC asks petitioner

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice M S Karnik directed advocate Yashwant Shenoy, who filed a public interest litigation (PIL) raising concern over dangers posed by high rises near the Mumbai airport, to indicate why the AAI's decision was bad in law.

August 29, 2022 / 01:37 PM IST
View of the metro lines running from the Navi Mumbai International Airport.

View of the metro lines running from the Navi Mumbai International Airport.

The Bombay High Court on Monday asked why the Airports Authority of India's decision to relax height restrictions from 55.10 metres to 160 metres for buildings in the vicinity of the proposed Navi Mumbai International Airport was illegal and in violation of law.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice M S Karnik directed advocate Yashwant Shenoy, who filed a public interest litigation (PIL) raising concern over dangers posed by high rises near the Mumbai airport, to indicate why the AAI's decision was bad in law.

The court said while Shenoy has made oral arguments that the AAI's decision is not correct, it has failed to trace any pleading made on paper indicating the same was in violation of any statutory provisions.

The court was also bemused that even before the airport (Navi Mumbai) has been constructed, buildings have been granted clearance for construction.

"What is amusing us is that the airport is yet to come up, but buildings are coming up first. Ideally, the airport should come up first and then buildings," Chief Justice Datta said.

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"Even before the airport has come up, you (authorities) want to have all constructions done. If you make it so tight, doesn't it raise concerns? Development is needed but not at the risk of people," Justice Karnik remarked.

Shenoy last week told the court that the AAI has decided to lift the height restrictions for buildings in the vicinity of the proposed Navi Mumbai International Airport from 55.1 metres up to 160 metres.

The AAI told the HC on Monday that in the past ten days, it had received 123 applications seeking No Objection Certificate (NOC) for the construction of buildings above 55.10 metres.

The NOC has been granted to 104 structures and 19 applications are pending, it said. As per the AAI's affidavit, rules issued in 2015 under the Aircraft Act permit construction of buildings above 55.10 metres within 20 kilometres radius of the airport.

The bench then asked Shenoy to indicate if this decision was illegal. "Why this decision is bad in law, illegal and ought to be quashed? Tell us that. Is this relaxation of height restrictions a violation of the statutory provisions?" the court asked.

The bench directed Shenoy to file a "better affidavit" saying why the AAI's decision is illegal. The court posted the matter for further hearing on September 29.

Meanwhile, a developer of a five-storey building near the Mumbai airport moved the HC challenging the demolition notice issued to it by Mumbai suburban collector.

The building 'Dheeraj Heritage' is one of the eight structures near the Mumbai airport, and some parts of the building are to be demolished within a month for violation of height restrictions.

The bench refused to hear the application filed by the building's developer and said they can file a separate petition.
PTI
first published: Aug 29, 2022 01:37 pm
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