PIL in high court objects to Mumbai Metro 2B overground line near Juhu airport
The Bombay high court (HC) has held that it will be hearing the public interest litigation (PIL) which has challenged the construction of the Metro 2B line passing through SV Road near the Juhu airport. The PIL alleges that the Metro line violates the funnel area stipulations of the airport and will endanger the lives of civilians and flight passengers permanently.
The PIL has contended that the no-objection certificate (NOC) granted by the authorities did not take into consideration the potential threat the overground Metro line will pose and hence seeks orders against the same.
The division bench of chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice Girish Kulkarni was hearing the public interest litigation filed by Harit Desai, a social worker and a resident of the Juhu Vile Parle Development Scheme (JVPD) through advocate Nishant Thakkar. The bench was informed that the petition challenged the NOC issued by the Airports Authority of India to the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA) in 2017 for constructing the overground Metro 2B line.
Thakkar submitted that while the elevation for the funnel area for landing and take-off of flights at runway 26 and 8 of the Juhu airport was 3.89 meters above mean sea level, the NOC permitted MMRDA to construct the metro line in the funnel zone which would not only be a permanent hazard to the operation of aircraft but would also endanger the lives of those in the aircraft as well as civilians residing and travelling in the vicinity.
In light of these submissions, Thakkar submitted that the NOC was violative and contrary to the Civil Aviation (Height Restrictions for the Safeguarding of Aircraft Operations) Rules, 2015 and hence sought to quash the original NOC as well as subsequent NOCs issued in 2018 and 2019.
The MMRDA represented by advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni and advocate Akshay Shinde however submitted that the petitioner had not exhausted the remedy of approaching the appellate committee and hence the court should not intervene in the PIL.
However, Thakkar responded stating that the appellate committee comprised of two members who were responsible for issuing the NOC hence the only option was to approach the HC.
Advocate Sandeep Marne along with advocate Arsh Mishra for the AAI however submitted that in light of the contention of the petitioner that a member of the committee had been involved in issuing the NOC it was not opposing the PIL.
After hearing the submissions the court held, “Since an important public project is involved and the petitioners propose to oppose it on the grounds urged in the writ petition, we expedite its hearing. Let reply affidavits be filed by the respondents by a week from date; rejoinder affidavits thereto, if any, may be filed by 5 (five) days thereafter,” and posted hearing of the PIL to October 4.