Monday, July 24, 2017

Residents around International Airport demand clarity in MIAL survey, DGCA says building height norms flouted

Mumbai: Lata Shirodkar stays with her husband on the ground floor of Sadhana building in Santacruz. For the past 50 years, her conversation with her neighbours largely revolved around the education of their respective children and sharing of recipes. Over the past few weeks, however, all that Lata and her neighbours, who are now part of a WhatsApp group, discuss is ways to save their two-storey building.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has deemed her building, along with 70 others, to be an obstacle in the flight path for Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA), Mumbai, and marked them for partial demolition. “They have listed our building to be 8 feet more than the required height specifications. This means, the authorities aim at razing the ceiling of the top floor of the two-storeyed building. For a 50-year-old structure, removing any structure of the building is going to leave the entire structure into rubbles. How are we to agree to this mishap with our homes?” she said.
Like Lata, representatives of around six societies in Vile Parle have received different notices stating the heights of their building shoot the permissible height limits. While some cases involve removing antennas, water tankers on the terraces of the buildings, rest call for razing one or two floors. A majority of these residents on the Vartak Marg and Sant Janabai Marg in Vile Parle believe touching any part of their over 50-year-old buildings will lead to a collapse and render them homeless.
In April, the Bombay High Court had directed the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the Airport Authority of India (AAI) to take quick action against the buildings found to have flouted the height norms, asking they cannot sit back “waiting for an accident to take place”. According to the survey conducted by the Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL), which manages CSIA, in 2015-16, as many as 317 structures were listed to be obstacles in the funnel area of the airport.
Since May, the safety body has been conducting personal hearings of residents of each of these buildings to clarify the height clearance of the building. What they have been checking is the expected height ratio of the building from the runway which has to be in a ratio of 1:7 and a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) of AAI that permits the height clearance of the building. By June end, buildings found violating any of the above requirements have been sent letters to notify the additional increase of height.
“By notifying the additional increase in the height of our building, they plan to indirectly scare us on vacating the premise. Most of our occupants have occupied the homes since before the airport existed around the area. Even then, we had taken the required completion certificate from the local government authorities. After 67 years, when not even one incident of a hit and miss accident or scare from any of the prevalent building’s height was reported from the airport, we have suddenly turned a threat to them?” said Sunil Vartak, chairman, Sarvodaya building in Vile Parle.
24/07/17 Neha Kulkarni/Indian Express