Air safety at Surat airport: Gujarat HC orders Surat municipal commissioner, district collector, and DGCA joint director general to file affidavits and appear in the court.

Surat: The Gujarat High Court bench hearing the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on the building height violation by the 27 residential projects, endangering the air safety at the Surat airport, reprimanded the Surat municipal commissioner, district collector, and the joint director general of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for filing the affidavits in the court by giving their respective updated status reports on each date of hearing of the case.

While hearing the PIL against the buildings that are safety hazards under the Aircraft (Demolition of Obstructions Caused By Buildings and Trees etc.) Rules 1994 at Surat airport, the HC bench comprising of Dr. Vineet Kothari and Umesh Trivedi observed that the affidavit was filed by Surat Municipal Corporation’s (SMC) town planner and not by the municipal commissioner, Banchhanidhi Pani.

HC bench stated that if the compliance of the aforesaid directions is not made by the concerned authorities on the given time frames, municipal commissioner, Banchhanidhi Pani, district collector, Ayush Oak, joint director general of DGCA, Dinesh Chand Sharma will be filing the affidavits. The officials have been asked to remain present in the court on each day of the hearing and they may be asked on the next date to make cash security deposits from their personal resources to ensure meticulous and punctual compliance on their part.

The Gujarat HC has curtailed the period of filing of appeals under Rule 6-A of the Aircraft Rules, 1994 by the builders and affected flat owners of the 27 residential building projects identified as obstacles in the flight path of the Surat airport runway, from 60 days to two weeks i.e August 31, 2021.

The court directed the DGCA to issue a public notice in the two English daily and at least one newspaper in vernacular Gujarati, Gujarat Samachar, the local edition of Surat that such appeals have to be filed on or before August 31, 2021, serving a copy of memo of appeal.

The compliance with the principles of natural justice giving an opportunity of hearing to the concerned parties or violators has been taking place for the last four years since 2015. Even though the present PIL was filed at the beginning of 2019, which was followed by the coronavirus lockdown that started in March-2020, the authorities did not take action under the Aircraft Rules, 1994.

A long time lag in the name of giving notices and opportunity of hearing is not a justifiable excuse for such a long period in the light of public safety under Aircraft Regulations, being severely compromised at Surat Airport, observed Gujarat HC.