Airports Authority of India puts Surat High-Rise Flat Owners at Risk

This negligence has left tens of thousands of flat owners in high-rise apartments in Surat's diamond city at risk, as they may face legal battles in the future due to potential height obstructions.


Surat :  The Airports Authority of India (AAI) is under scrutiny for its failure to conduct a crucial Obstacle Limitation Surface (OLS) survey for the proposed parallel runway at Surat airport, as outlined in the AAI Master Plan 2035. This negligence has left tens of thousands of flat owners in high-rise apartments in Surat’s diamond city at risk, as they may face legal battles in the future due to potential height obstructions.

An alert citizen from Surat raised this critical issue by filing a complaint with the Centralized Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (CPGRAMS). The primary concern is the absence of the OLS survey for the 3,810-meter runway specified in the Surat Airport Master Plan 2035.

It was only on December 20, 2020, that the Gazette of India officially declared the existing and proposed runway length of 3,810 meters at Surat Airport. However, this declaration coincided with surface surveys being conducted only for the existing airstrip, covering a length of 2,906 meters. This incomplete approach has left many questioning AAI’s diligence.

Over the past six years, five OLS surveys have been carried out, from 2016 to 2022. Unfortunately, each of these attempts fell short of a comprehensive assessment, suggesting a systemic issue within AAI’s survey practices.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation gazetted the runway length of both the existing 2,906 meters and the proposed parallel runway of 3,810 meters, thus reinforcing the need for an accurate OLS survey to secure the airspace. Despite the requisite parameters for maximum permissible height of the buildings is in place under the NOCSA2 since 2016, no OLS survey has been executive for the proposed parallel runway at Surat airport in alignment with the Master Plan 2035 for airport extension.

The existing runway at Surat Airport is 2,906 meters as per authorized standards. However, temporary displacement of 615 meters towards RWY22 has occurred due to height constraints. The AAI indicated that extending the airstrip to RWY04 (Dumas) was unfeasible because an ONGC pipeline runs through the airport premises. Even if this underground pipeline is shifted, it would still face hindrances from three legal multi-story buildings in Dumas.

The failure to conduct OLS surveys on the full 3,810 meters of the both the runway—04/22 and 04R/22L–during the past five surveys remains a puzzling question. This oversight means that high-rise buildings obstructing various critical surfaces of Surat Airport have not been properly assessed, and it is uncertain when this will change.

The height barriers issue highlights the potential consequences that the community may face in the future due to the lack of OLS surveys. There are concerns that Surat Airport may remain crippled by height obstruction controversies unless action is taken to rectify this situation.

In response to the CPGRAMS complaint, AAI stated that the issue is under review, and the surfaces are being protected as per GSR 770E. However, they have not committed to a timeline for conducting the necessary OLS survey, leaving the future development of the airstrip in limbo.

“The situation has left the residents of Surat’s high-rise apartments anxiously awaiting a resolution that could determine the safety and security of their homes and the future of Surat Airport. The question remains: how long will the OLS survey be delayed, and will Surat Airport remain embroiled in height obstruction controversies?” said the complainant on condition of anonymity.