Is there another Campa Cola in the making in Mumbai?

  • Kunal Purohit, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Dec 04, 2014 19:23 IST

The residents of 67 buildings and hundreds of slum tenements, said to be obstructing the take-off and landing paths of flights, seem to be victims of the confusion and lack of coordination between the airport authorities and the civic body.

They are caught in a situation similar to the Campa Cola case as well as the issue of buildings coming up on forest land, where agencies responded much after residents had settled in.

Politicians have now demanded an inquiry be lodged against Airport Authority of India (AAI) and Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) for pointing the out irregularities, despite the former issuing No Objection Certificates (NOCs) to most of these buildings.

Even the civic body agrees most structures had AAI nods. It is the implementation of these NOCs that is shrouded in doubt and confusion, which is making it difficult for authorities to figure out just how these height irregularities came to be. Sources in the MIAL said the implementation of these nods was not the AAI’s domain, but was purely within the civic body’s jurisdiction.

This is where the civic body makes it worse. Civic officials said the AAI’s nod and its implementation is not their responsibility. “According to the procedure, the developer has to obtain the AAI’s permission without our interference. The AAI never consults us or includes us in this process.”

“Both the airport authorities and the civic body are to be blamed in this situation. The role of implementing the NOCs was clearly the BMC’s, but nothing explains the delay in the MIAL pointing these out,” said Ajit Khatri, architect and former president of Practicing Engineers Architects and Town Planners Association (PEATA).

It is this blame game and the lack of coordination between the MIAL and the civic body that has caused much consternation to not just citizens, but also politicians.

Shiv Sena member of Parliament from Mumbai South-Central Rahul Shewale has now demanded a probe into MIAL’s findings. Shewale said he was going to raise the issue in the Parliament.

“Despite these residents having NOCs from the AAI, they are suddenly being harassed by the MIAL. I have asked the Ministry of Civil Aviation to conduct an inquiry into why, despite the NOCs, the buildings are now being considered for action by the MIAL and BMC,” said Shewale.

Vile Parle’s BJP legislator Parag Alavani has also threatened to act against MIAL if it presses for action against these structures.

“There are many irregularities that I can point out within the airport as well if they try to harass innocent citizens decades after these buildings came into existence."

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