The Centre will not allow private helipads atop residential buildings in Mumbai, Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said on Saturday.
Speaking exclusively to Hindustan Times, Ramesh said, “There is no question of the MoEF (Ministry of Environment and Forest) giving permission for any kind of private helipads considering the implications the move can have on noise, health and security.”
His statements are a setback to the state government which last year amended the city’s Development Control rules to allow helipads atop residential and commercial buildings, even in coastal, environmentally sensitive and silent zones.
Corporate bigwigs including Mukesh Ambani, Ratan Tata and the Essar group want to have their own helipads. According to the state, the helipads would not only help businessmen save commuting time but could be used by the state for rescue operations and disaster relief in an emergency.
“That’s not a valid argument,” Jairam said.
Sumaira Abdulali, founder of Awaaz Foundation, who has challenged the state’s move in the Bombay High Court in her petition against noise pollution, said helipads posed risks.
“Noise pollution will be enormous. Then there is the security risk and the risk of accidents in a high-density place like Mumbai,” she said. The HC has asked the state to clarify its stand after environmentalists said helicopters would generate decibel levels of 100-120 during take-off and landing (the permissible limit is 50-60dB).
Ramesh also said permission for low-cost housing projects in Coastal Regulation Zone areas could be given only if the state had a major say in these projects. His point: if the state is involved, there would be greater accountability as private builders often flouted rules.