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Bombay High Court disposes PIL on demolition of high rises over height norms violation near airport

The sword of ‘demolition’ continues to hang on numerous high-rise structures situated around Mumbai International Airport, even after the Bombay High Court disposed of a petition seeking demolition of such structures due to the violation of height norms.

The PIL was filed in 2014 and since then it has been heard by various benches, some of which had passed interim orders directing the Airport Authority of India and also the BMC to demolish the structures. Since then, the civic body has demolished some floors of a few buildings; the AAI and the DGCA, meanwhile, have categorised hundreds of buildings, which have violated the height norms.

In his petition, advocate Yeshwant Shenoy contend-ed that these structures violated the norms prescribed by the DGCA for construction around airport. He argued that these structures posed a threat to air traffic and could cause an accident, thereby endangering the lives of citizens. The division bench of Justice Satyaranjan Dharmadhikari and Justice Prakash Naik, however, disposed of the PIL as it was filed much before the enforcement of Height Restrictions (For safeguarding of aircraft operations) Rules 2015. The bench noted that Shenoy had neither challenged any of the rules, nor did he claim any violation of the norms under the 2015 enactment. While disposing the PIL, Justice Dharmadhikari said, “The provisions of Height Restrictions (For Safeguarding of Aircraft Operations) Rules 2015 are well defined. We do not deem it fit to intervene in the issue until the concerned authorities are implementing the rules.”

“However, we grant liberty to the aggrieved persons and the petitioner to approach this court if they seek to challenge the validity of the provisions. The parties can also bring to the notice of this court any breach of rules on the part of the authorities or any third party,” Justice Dharmadhikari added. The court is likely to consider the issue of alleged violation of height norms in these structures on Friday.

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