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Written by Ajay Khape
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has urged the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to seek a No Objection Certificate (NoC) from it before allowing any construction near the site of a helipad, or where one is likely to be developed.
In a communication to the PMC, the DGCA cited the Maharashtra government’s new helipad policy, introduced in January this year to ensure enhanced safety measures. The policy specifies that construction activity in and around the designated helicopter landing sites has to be monitored, so that a newly-constructed structure doesn’t end up becoming a hindrance for helicopter operations.
“Before giving permission for construction activity in and around any helicopter landing site, the PMC should seek a NoC from civil aviation authorities,” said the DGCA.
Construction activity near Pune airport has always been a contentious issue and the civic body recently demolished a few structures that were developed in the restricted zone. The helipad policy, however, extends the restrictions to any part of the city where a helipad is developed.
The state government introduced the helipad policy after at least four incidents involving the helicopter ferrying Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis were reported in the last few months.
The policy outlines that the helipad site and adjoining areas, up to a distance of 500 metres, should be free of electric wires, cables, microwave towers, transformers and any object that can turn into an obstruction for the safe operation of the helicopter.
The site should preferably not have densely populated areas, and have an easy, two-way access for the movement of vehicles such as fire engines and ambulances.
The policy aims to ensure safety during the take-off or landing of the helicopters registered with the DGCA. It has also given the state Directorate of Civil Aviation (DCA) the task of providing approvals for all operations that take place at a particular helicopter landing site. The DCA has to conduct a safety audit from time to time to ensure that the policy is being complied with. The Directorate will have to update the policy specifications, as and when required, and prepare a ‘master list’ of helicopter landing sites.
The DGCA had already issued Civil Aviation Requirements and other guidelines pertaining to design and operations of the helicopter. While the document is technical in nature, a policy document prepared by the state government not only simplifies the regulations, but also customises them to suit the requirements of the state.