MUMBAI: Today, the Bombay High Court has directed Mumbai Suburban District Collector to initiate steps to demolish unauthorized floors and/or structures of 48 buildings around the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA).
A division bench headed by Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice MS Karnik directed the District Collector to file a fresh affidavit by August 22 spelling out the steps it would take to pull down the structures or portions of the structures which have flouted the height restrictions.
In its order the Court said that – “We direct the Collector, Mumbai Suburban District, to take steps to implement the final orders passed by the DGCA in respect of the 48 obstacles. By the next date, an affidavit should be filed stating the steps that would be taken to implement the orders,”
“We are not at all impressed with this affidavit. We do not approve of the Collector passing off his responsibility to the BMC. It has to comply with the orders of the DGCA as provided under the Aircraft Rules, 1994,” CJ Datta underlined.
The divisional bench clarified that the Collector could, however, seek assistance from BMC or any other planning authority like the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA), Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA), etc. to carry out the demolition drive.
“They (BMC) have already filed an affidavit stating they are ready to help you in the demolition drive. So you can seek their help,” the judges noted from the BMC affidavit filed through advocate Abhishek Khare.
The Court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) petition filed by advocate Yeshwant Shenoy alleging flagrant violation by developers, who the plea claimed have been permitted to construct buildings around the airport area.
The PIL petition claimed that the developers breached the No Objection Certificate (NOC) issued by the Airport Authority of India (AAI) regarding the heights of the buildings and constructed structures beyond the permissible height limit.
Senior advocate Vikram Nankani, appearing for the Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL), apprised the bench that in 2016 it had identified 137 such obstacles which posed a serious threat to flights, and notices were issued to them for breach of AAI’s NOC.
“Immediate action is needed to be taken against these 48 structures or obstacles,” Nankani pleaded.
The judges also took objection to the State government’s affidavit since it was filed by a “leave reserve” officer. The affidavit said that it is the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) that will have to carry out the demolition work.
“How can a leave reserve officer be asked to file an affidavit in such a serious matter? This shows the seriousness on your (state) part,” the Court remarked.
The Next date of hearing is on August 22.
DOWNLOAD OUR FREE LEGAL MAGAZINE – Law Manthan 2nd Edition