Plea against NOC to Metro rail project in Juhu Airport vicinity: Bombay HC seeks report on public safety

An investigation was proposed to the Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for petitioner's concerns in light of his complaint that the AAI had violated the 2015 Rules

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MUMBAI (Metro Rail News): On Tuesday, the Bombay high court ordered Union civil aviation secretary Rajiv Bansal to submit an independent detailed report on the issue of height clearance granted for a Mumbai over-ground Metro train project.

High Court bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and M S Karnik said.”Bansal shall also consider the aspect of safety and security of the public, who reside in the vicinity of Juhu Airport, and throw light on whether commissioning of the MMRDA (Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority) metro rail line would in any way affect aircraft operations at Juhu Airport,” the

The HC allowed the MMRDA to “carry on preparatory work for the Metro Rail line, viz Geotechnical investigation and utility identification” until further orders, adjourning public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the NOC for the Metro 2B line to February 28. However, it also clarified that “apart from such preparatory work, no other work may be carried out at the site without the prior leave of this Court.”

The HC heard a petition filed by Harit Desai, who contested the Airport Authority of India’s (AAI) No-objection Certificate (NOC) granted to the MMRDA for the construction of an over-ground Metro rail line within the Funnel Zone to the east of the approach and take-off climb surfaces of runways 26 and 08, respectively, of the Juhu Airport.

According to Desai’s lawyer, Nishant Thakkar, the NOC violated the ministry’s (Height Restrictions for Safeguarding of Aircraft Operations) Rules, 2015. In addition, the PIL raised concern that if the MMRDA’s metro line is completed, it may result in the loss of lives due to accidents.

The rail corridor runs from DN Nagar in Andheri (west) to Mankhurd in Mankhurd. After hearing from AAI counsel Sandeep Marne and state advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, the court wanted to know if the NOC complied with the laws.

The HC sought assistance from a civil aviation expert since it could not study the technicalities involved “yet at the same time the issue highlighted in this PIL appears to be substantial.”

An investigation was proposed to the Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for petitioner’s concerns in light of his complaint that the AAI had violated the 2015 Rules, as well as his fear of loss of lives as a result of accidents if the MMRDA’s metro rail line were to be commissioned.

However, counsel Thakkar informed the court that Arun Kumar, the current DGCA, was the incumbent joint secretary (airports) of the Ministry of Civil Aviation at the appropriate time. Therefore, he was involved in the decision-making process leading to the issue of the contested NOC.

As a result, he sought that the secretary of civil aviation replace the DGCA, which the HC agreed to after Kumbhakoni and Marne did not oppose. The HC ordered Thakkar and D P Singh, the central government’s lawyer, to notify the secretary of the civil aviation ministry of the court’s decision.

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