Bombay HC Dismisses MHADA's Request For 40-Storey Building Near Airport, Citing Aviation Safety Concerns

Bombay HC Dismisses MHADA's Request For 40-Storey Building Near Airport, Citing Aviation Safety Concerns

Aviation safety has nothing to do at all with the identity of the developer and no relaxation of norms can be granted because the project proponent is a public authority, stated the Bombay High Court.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Monday, January 15, 2024, 05:49 PM IST
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Bombay HC Dismisses MHADA's Request For 40-Storey Building Near Airport, Citing Aviation Safety Concerns | File

The court dismissed a petition by Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) challenging the order passed by the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation refusing to grant it permission to construct a 40-storey residential building near the city international airport.

Aviation safety has nothing to do at all with the identity of the developer and no relaxation of norms can be granted because the project proponent is a public authority, stated the Bombay High Court. 

Court's observations

"No relaxation of civil aviation safety norms can be granted only because the project proponent is a public authority,” said a division bench of Justices Gautam Patel and Kamal Khata on January 10. It noted that MHADA cannot claim a legal, let alone constitutional, right to a taller building.

The HC was hearing a plea by MHADA against the civil aviation ministry’s decision of December 2021 restricting height of proposed MHADA'S project near Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) to around 96 meters. 

The bench added, “It cannot contend that civil aviation safety standards should not apply to it. It cannot contend that merely because this is a MHADA project, it exceeding a mandated height poses no danger to civil aviation." The court said that it was reluctant to accept the proposition, "one that paints quite a startling picture, of aircraft at the CSMIA weaving and swooping around an oversized MHADA tower as they take off or land”.

MHADA's proposal

MHADA had proposed to construct a building of a 115.54 meters height, of 40 floors, for middle or low-income housing of 560 tenements. 

As per the civil aviation norms, the permissible height is 58.48 meters. Mhada approached the appellate authority for height relaxation, which permitted the housing body to construct up to  96.68 meters.

The court said that there was no arbitrariness and the housing body was not being selectively targeted, but in fact it was “the other way around." The judges warned the appellate authority that if it was giving relaxation to Mhada, then the same relaxation would be required to be given to every other developer, including a private party.

Proposed building within 4 Km radius of airport

“Why MHADA needs a building of 40 floors is unexplained. But this proposed building falls within the four-kilometre radius of the airport run by the Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL),” the court remarked.

Emphasising that the Airport Authority of India has specified height restrictions that follow internationally mandated aviation safety standards and norms, the bench said: “There are no exemptions just because these are middle-income group housing scheme or because the applicant is MHADA.” 

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