Last chance for DGCA. SMC to submit ATR against offending building obstructing funnel of Surat airport : Gujarat HC

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Surat: In what is seen as a harsh move, the Gujarat High Court has directed the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) to file the latest ‘Action Taken Reports (ATRs) and the affidavits against the offending buildings constructed in the funnel path of the Surat airport, posing serious air safety concerns.

In a strict warning, the Gujarat High Court bench comprising Justice Dr. Vineet Kothari and Justice Umesh Trivedi stated that if the affidavits and ATRs are not filed by the concerned authorities till the next hearing date, personal responsibility will be fixed upon them by directing them to make a cash security deposit from their personal funds to ensure timely and meticulous compliance of court directions.

In an earlier affidavit filed by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) in the Gujarat High Court in March-2021, it submitted that all 41buildings were identified as obstacles in the funnel of the Surat airport runway. Out of these 41 buildings, 14 buildings were removed and now have ceased to be an obstacle.

The HC stated that the no-objection certificate (NOCs) issued to the buildings, identified as obstacles are now deemed to be canceled and such NOCs cannot stand hence there is no question of regularizing the same.

The Gujarat High Court has made it clear that mere giving of notices and delaying the proceedings in the name of personal hearing will not be appreciated. Similarly, the SMC also may produce the latest status report with ATR against the offending buildings as air safety in the Surat airport appears to be of supervening public importance and public

Taking a harsh view, the Gujarat High Court observed that the authorities and concerned departments, instead of taking concrete action in the matter have tried to pass the buck and only present a picture before the court that they have given notices to concerned offending builders and parties for demolishing under the 1994 rule and are engaged presently in the process of giving personal hearing from the last three years.

In December-2019, the Gujarat High Court had ordered the Centre, the AAI, and the Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) on the unauthorized construction obstructing the flight path at the Surat airport while hearing to the Public Interest Litigation (PIL). Various builders and residents of nearly  48 projects consisting of 198 buildings had also approached the HC in this regard.

The clearance of obstacles in the approach surface of runway-22 at the Vesu side will pave the way for clearing the displacement of 615 meters imposed by DGCA. This means that the aircraft’s landing from the Vesu side will be able to use the full-length runway of 2,905 meters, instead of the current 2,290 meters.

Sources said that the survey of the buildings obstructing the flight path within 6.6 kilometers in the approach funnel of the runway at Vesu ended in 2018. About 198 buildings in 48 projects were identified for the violation of permissible top elevation and coordinates.