Thursday, May 04, 2017

Demolition of unauthorised buildings around airport: Residents hit by order prepare to dig heels in

Occupants of a clutch of buildings in Vile Parle (East) have been preparing for what they expect will be a protracted legal battle, with some claiming their homes were constructed before the law requiring specific clearances from the Airports Authority of India (AAI) came into force. Having received eviction notices ahead of an impending demolition or partial demolition of their homes, these representatives of nearly 45 buildings hope their concerns will be heeded by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) at an upcoming hearing.
Last week, the High Court directed the DGCA to take immediate action against 115 high-rise buildings, falling in the flight path of the airport, that don’t have necessary no-objection certificates from the AAI, or have built additional floors beyond permitted heights. After the HC directive, the regulatory body has summoned the first lot of 45 buildings’ representatives for a hearing on Thursday and Friday.
The majority of the residents of these buildings, along the Aman Vamun Vartak lane and Janabai lanes in Vile Parle (East), have lived in the area for as many as 50 years. Most have known one another since childhood, many are retired and most are Maharashtrians from upper middle class families.
Some of them are former Air India employees, while the others are professionals from various fields. Calling the move unjust and against their interests, some representatives had gathered in one of the buildings to discuss a plan of action. “After fifty years of existence inside our flats, we are being asked to evacuate within a short span of time. While our two-storeyed building never created a problem before, the airport authorities are now considering the top floor to be detrimental to their safe operations. Where are we to go at this age,” said Prabhas Raut, a senior citizen and and resident of New Sarvodaya building, one among those listed for the first round of demolitions.
04/05/17 Neha Kulkarni/Indian Express