MoEF says new helipads in city avoidablehttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/moef-says-new-helipads-in-city-avoidable/

MoEF says new helipads in city avoidable

In an observation that might hinder plans for proposed helipads in the city,especially by private entities,the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has taken a view that new helipads can be avoided in Mumbai taking into account the high ambient noise levels.

Affidavit: Ministry says rules do not specifically debar private facilities,cites noise levels in excess of standards

In an observation that might hinder plans for proposed helipads in the city,especially by private entities,the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has taken a view that new helipads can be avoided in Mumbai taking into account the high ambient noise levels.

An affidavit filed before the Bombay High Court by R N Jindal,additional director to the ministry,states that “while the Noise Rules,2000,do not specifically debar private helipads,in view of the high ambient noise levels in Mumbai in general both ‘day time’ and ‘night time’ very often in excess of the prescribed standards,such new helipads are avoidable.”

Responding to an earlier query by the court as to whether the noise pollution occasioned by the use of helicopter would fall within the expression of ‘sound producing instrument’,the affidavit states that the preliminary scrutiny of the rules indicates that the concept of ‘sound producing instruments’ is in the realm of loudspeaker,musical instrument,fire crackers,construction activities etc,which can be used on closed premises or public place and not the vehicles,aircraft or helicopters.

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The affidavit was filed in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by NGO Awaz Foundation and others seeking implementation of 2000 rules.

The court has adjourned the hearing for two weeks.

The state environment department had,however,stated earlier this year that noise pollution rules do not mean that noise level for every minute of the day must be within the prescribed limits.

“If that would be the case,no aircraft or helicopter would be able to take off or land,” Valsa Singh,environment secretary,stated.

The department is of the view that noise levels should be controlled by “time weighted average” over the day time and night time by maintaining the ambience level.

The department had also stated that there was no reason to revoke the sanction granted to applicants like Reliance Corporate IT Park Limited,Reliance Properties Private Limited and Taj Wellington Mews for the construction of helipads as they are not violating the “time weighted average”.

The court had earlier noted that the decibel levels of helicopters when they take off and land reaches around 100-120 decibels while the permissible level is around 50-60 decibels.

The noise levels were submitted through a report filed by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board.

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