The Bombay High Court on Friday directed the Mumbai suburban district Collector to indicate steps for the demolition of 48 obstacles (unauthorized portions of buildings) violating height norms in the vicinity of the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice M S Karnik reached down heavily on the suburban Collector for trying to shift the responsibility to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for the demolition of these obstacles.
Bombay High Court
Suggesting the authorities disconnect the electricity and water supply of these unauthorized buildings, the court told that Collector has to take steps to tackle this “menace”.
The HC was hearing public interest litigation (PIL) filed by advocate Yashwant Shenoy seeking action against the construction of buildings above the prescribed height limit in the vicinity of the city airport.
Mumbai International Airport Limited
Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) told the Bombay HC that periodical surveys are conducted to check structures violating the height limit. In 2010’s survey, 137 such obstacles were identified. Of these, in 63 cases final orders were passed. In jibe cases, appeals were filed and only six bindings complied.
Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) told that there is neither compliance nor appeal filed by the remaining 48 obstacles and hence these need to be demolished immediately.
The collector contended in its affidavit that in Mumbai city, the BMC is the appropriate authority to carry out demolition since it is the planning authority under the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966.
Government pleader Manush Papale, appearing for the Collector, told that Collector does not have the machinery for carrying out the demolition work.
Whereas, the BMC contended that under the 2015 Height Restrictions Rules, action is to be initiated against a building exceeding permissible height under the manner provided in Aircraft (Demolition of obstructions caused by Buildings and Trees, etc) Rules, 1994. Hence, the collector has to take action for the removal of obstructions as it is done in the rest of the district. Hence, the collector cannot shift the burden /responsibility onto BMC, claimed the civic body.
The court slammed the Collector for shirking responsibility and noted that it is for the Collector to proceed with the demolition. “It is the statutory mandate that after final orders are passed for demolition of a structure, it is for the Collector to take steps and demolish those structures that are causing an obstacle to aircraft taking off and landing at the airport,” stated CJ Datta.
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CJ Datta stated: “An attempt being made to shift responsibility to the BMC is clear. We are not impressed with such an attitude. We do not support the Collector moving responsibility to the BMC.”
The Bombay HC has directed the Collector to file an affidavit, telling “We direct the Collector to file an affidavit indicating the steps proposed to be taken to demolish the 48 structures.”
The HC has asked the BMC and the police to render the required assistance to the Collector. The court will pass appropriate orders about the other obstacles identified by the MIAL from 2010 till now after the answering affidavit of the Collector is filed on August 22.
“Those buildings that have been given notices…begin disconnecting their electricity and water supply,” added CJ Datta. The High Court has kept the matter for hearing on August 22.
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