A bench of the Delhi High Court, comprising acting chief justice Gita Mittal and justice C Hari Shankar, has issued notices to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the Delhi International Airport Private Limited, seeking their responses on a plea, which has alleged that the authorities colluded with real estate lobbies, leading to a situation where hundreds of buildings around the IGI Airport have violated the prescribed height norms. The public interest litigation (PIL) has claimed that a similar situation prevailed in Mumbai, with regard to the international airport there. The court also issued notice to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and various other security agencies and sought their replies, before the next date of hearing on December 6, 2017.
Petitioner Yeshwanth Shenoy moved the court, seeking direction to the authorities including the DGCA, the regulatory body for civil aviation, to proceed against the obstacles near the airport as per the Aircraft (Demolition of obstructions caused by buildings and trees) Rules, 1994. It urged the court to direct the authorities to conduct an ‘obstacle survey as mandated by law’. Shenoy, a Kerala-based lawyer, said Delhi was seriously affected by obstacles.
“The AAI, having identified the obstacles, failed to follow the procedure provided to remove the obstacles and thereby, putting to threat aviation safety and consequently, the lives of passengers, crew and the people on ground. The DIAL failed to conduct the obstacle study as is mandated by law and the DGCA failed to identify the threat to safety in its safety audits,” the plea said.
Shenoy said that the 2010 Mangalore air crash set him off on this path. On May 22, 2010, an Air India Express Flight 812 from Dubai to Mangalore overshot the runway on landing, after which it caught fire, the plea has said. Of the 160 passengers and six crew members on board, only eight survived.
He said that the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, the Central Industrial Security Force and the Delhi Police have not taken airport security seriously and in spite of non-compliance of the conditions imposed on buildings and hotels around the airport, these establishments have been operating.
The petition has sought direction to the authorities, to produce the last 10 years safety audit reports for the IGI Airport in Delhi. It has also sought a direction to the Delhi International Airport Pvt Ltd, to ensure compliance with all shortcomings pointed out in the safety audit reports of the AAI and DGCA. Pending hearing of this matter, no NOC for extra heights be granted to any building anywhere within the territory of India, the PIL has said.