A PIL has been filed in the Delhi High Court seeking demolition of hundreds of buildings above the prescribed height around the IGI Airport in New Delhi on the grounds of threat to aircraft and lives of flyers. A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar issued notice to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the Delhi International Airport Private Limited to seek their responses on the plea which has alleged that authorities colluded with real estate lobbies which has led to the current situation.
The public interest litigation (PIL) has claimed that a similar situation prevailed in Mumbai with regard to the international airport there. The court also issued notice to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and various other security agencies and sought their replies before the next date of hearing on December 6.
Petitioner Yeshwanth Shenoy has moved the court seeking direction to authorities including DGCA, the regulatory body for civil aviation, to proceed against the obstacles near the airport as per the Aircraft (Demolition of obstructions caused by buildings and trees) Rules, 1994. It urged the court to direct authorities to conduct an “obstacle survey as mandated by law”.
Shenoy, a Kerala-based lawyer, said Delhi was seriously affected by obstacles. “The AAI having identified the obstacles failed to follow the procedure provided to remove the obstacles and thereby, putting to threat aviation safety and consequently, the lives of passengers, crew and the people on ground. “That the DIAL failed to conduct obstacle study as is mandated by law and the DGCA failed to identify the threat to safety in its safety audits,” the plea said.
Shenoy recalled what set him off on this path was the 2010 Mangalore air crash. On May 22 that year, an Air India Express Flight 812 from Dubai to Mangalore overshot the runway on landing after which it caught fire, the plea has said. Of the 160 passengers and six crew members on board, only eight survived.
He has said that the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, Central lndustrial Security Force and Delhi Police have not taken airport security seriously and inspite of non compliance of the conditions imposed on buildings, hotels around the airport, these establishments have been operating.
The petition has sought direction to the authorities to produce the last 10 years safety audit reports for the IGI Airport in Delhi. It has also sought a direction to the Delhi International Airport Pvt Ltd to ensure compliance with all shortcomings pointed out in the safety audit reports of the AAI and DGCA.
Pending hearing of this matter, no NOC for extra heights be granted to any building anywhere within the territory of India, the PIL has said.