The Bombay High Court on Monday sought to know from a petitioner how the Airport Authority of India’s (AAI) decision to relax height restrictions for buildings near the Navi Mumbai Airport from 55.10 metres to 160 metres is in violation of the law.
The petitioner, advocate Yashvant Shenoy, had raised concerns over the dangers posed by such high rises near the airport. On Monday, a division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Dutta and Justice MS Karnik directed the advocate to specify how the AAI’s decision was bad in law.
The bench remarked that while the petitioner had made oral arguments, there was no pleading made on paper to show that such a decision was in violation of statutory provisions. The court also found it amusing that before the airport had been constructed, the buildings were already coming up. "Ideally, the airport should come up first and then the buildings," the Chief Justice said.
Justice Karnik said, “Even before the airport has come up, you (the authorities) want to have all constructions done. If you make it so tight, doesn’t it raise concerns? Development is needed but not at the risk of people.”
The AAI on Monday told the HC that in the past ten days, it had received 123 applications for no-objections for the construction of buildings above 55.10 metres. It informed the court that the no-objections were granted to 104 structures and 19 applications are pending decision.
As per an affidavit filed by the AAI, rules issued in 2015 under the Aircraft Act permit construction of buildings above the height of 55.10 metres within a 20 km radius of the airport.
The court then asked the petitioner to indicate if the decision was bad in law, illegal and ought to be quashed. It then asked him to file an affidavit on why the decision was illegal. The court will hear the matter further on September 29.