Monday, June 04, 2018

Four months on, SMC yet to act on removing buildings obstructing runway

Times of India: Surat: Monday, June 04, 2018.
Even after four months of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) chairman Guruprasad Mohapatra intimating to check violations of the no-objection certificates (NOCs) for height clearance issued by AAI and to reduce the height of identified buildings to permissible limit for smooth operation of runway at Surat airport, the Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) is yet to take any action in this regard.
A copy of letter written by Mohapatra to SMC in February-2018, obtained under the Right To Information (RTI) Act, clearly stated that the concerned municipal corporation and the airport operator have to ensure that buildings are regulated as per the notification.
The height of buildings obstructing the runway at Surat airport have to be demolished in order to restore the threshold of runway on Vesu side for smooth operation of flights.
The letter further stated that AAI has noticed that many builders in the airport vicinity have constructed high-rises in violation of NoC issued by AAI. Also, the site data coordinates and elevation certificates issued by PWD department of the Government of Gujarat were wrong, resulting in grant of more height to many buildings.
These violations have impacted the Surat airport runway operations and the threshold of runway on Vesu side has to be displaced by 615 metre to ensure safe aircraft operations at the airport. Further, AAI’s plan to accommodate bigger aircrafts at the airport has been jeopardized.
Mohapatra stated that AAI has already initiated action under aircraft (demolition of obstruction caused by buildings and tree) rule 1994 against 18 such buildings and notices have been served to the concerned buildings. As per the Government of India notification GSR-751 (E), it is the joint responsibility of the municipal corporation and the airport operator to ensure that buildings are regulated as per the notification.
Talking to TOI, additional city engineer, urban town planning, Ketan Patel said, “After we received the letter from AAI chairman, meetings were held with AAI officials from New Delhi and Surat. SMC doesn’t come in the picture at all. The action has to be taken by AAI. In fact, AAI was supposed to carry out the resurvey of the buildings.”
RTI activist Rajesh Modi said, “AAI, SMC and DGCA are busy in playing passing the buck game and thus the development of airport is put on the tenterhooks. Recently, DGCA approved the use of 2,290 metre runway, but still the 615 metre runway is kept under displacement due to the obstruction by 18 buildings.”