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Luxury hotel, mall among 176 obstacles in flight path at Delhi airport

The Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), a consortium led by GMR Group, issued notices to companies, government agencies and individuals asking them to furnish details of the structures, which, according to it , were ”infringing the height restriction” around the airport.

delhi Updated: Sep 14, 2018 09:45 IST
Faizan Haidar
Faizan Haidar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Delhi airport,Delhi flights,DIAL
A passenger aircraft seen flying over new ATC Tower at Terminal 3 of Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi. (Vipin Kumar/HT Photo)

A luxury hotel, a shopping mall, an electric traction system of Delhi Metro Rail, a housing complex in South Delhi, trees, power pylons and telecom towers are among the 176 obstacles posing a potential safety risk to planes approaching the city because they are on the flight path, according to the operator of the airport.

On Thursday, Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), a consortium led by GMR Group, issued notices to companies, government agencies and individuals asking them to furnish details of the structures, which, according to it , were ”infringing the height restriction” around the airport, two officials aware of the matter said. The details sought included the height of the structures and their vintage.

According to an official of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) who spoke on condition of anonymity, the owners will be asked to remove the obstacles in some cases, and if they fail to do so, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will initiate demolition of the structures. AAI is one of the partners in the GMR-led consortium.

In some others, the owner might just have to install a light on the top of a building or remove a water tank that may be infringing the height restriction. This will vary case to case.

“If the approach path of a flight is not clear, it is obviously a safety issue. But whether a building is an obstacle has to be calculated through the distance and height (of a structure), and the height of an approaching plane in that area. There is a set formula for that and there is a possibility that some buildings might have come much later without the approval,” said VK Kukar, a former Air India Pilot.

Too high, too close
Structures close to the airport and in flight paths need to conform to height restrictions
In the way
176 structures

‘Infringing height restriction’
Ambience Mall Vasant Kunj Jaypee Vasant Continental, Vasant Vihar Cellphone masts in cantonment area
Lowering of height Installation of beacons DemolitionM

Rules say
No-objection certificates must be obtained from Airports Authority of India. Buildings constructed without it can be demolished after warning

As per the Ministry of Civil Aviation (Height Restrictions for Safeguarding of Aircraft Operations) Rules, 2015, any construction coming up within 20km of an airport has to obtain a no-objection certificate (NOC) from AAI. Based on the latitude and longitude, AAI decides whether it is an obstacle or not, and issue NOCs accordingly.

“DGCA has issued orders asking the owners of the obstacles to furnish a plan to DIAL showing location, height of the structure, date of construction, distance from aerodrome reference point and any other relevant details. The notices have been issued following a high court order on July 30,” said an official at the DGCA, the aviation regulator, requesting anonymity.

The Delhi high court on July 30 directed South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), Haryana Urban Development Authority and the Noida Authority to ensure that no further construction took place around the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA). The flight approach path includes certain areas in Gurugram and Noida. The HC also expressed its displeasure over the failure of DGCA and DIAL to remove 365 obstacles from around the airport that pose a threat to aircraft security.

“As the airport operator, DIAL has been working continuously to ensure flight safety by protecting obstacle limitation surfaces around the airport. Based on the findings of the obstacle survey, DIAL has been proactively approaching owners / occupants of buildings, cell phone masts (base stations) and trees. Due to the persistent follow-up by DIAL, more than 50 obstacles have been removed so far,” said a spokesperson for DIAL.

Most of the houses among the 176 obstacles are located in the residential area of Vasant Kunj, and light poles in the Delhi cantonment area. There are also cellphone masts and other communication towers on the list as also Ambience Mall in Gurgaon, and the Jaypee Vasant Continental Hotel in Vasant Vihar.

Delhi Metro’s spokesperson Anuj Dayal said, “The Delhi Metro has received a communication regarding this issue. The same will be looked into and we shall reply suitably.” Raj Singh Gehlot, chairman of the Ambience Group that runs Ambience Mall, said the company is yet to receive the notice and will reply when it does so.

A spokesperson for Jaypee Vasant hotel said, “We have not received any notice and we have (an) NOC regarding (the) height.”

“All the flats in Vasant Kunj are built by Delhi Development Authority and there is no builder flat. Height standard was decided by DDA and no floor has been added by residents,” said B Manchanda of the All Residents Welfare Association (ARWA) of Vasant Kunj

Advocate Yeshwanth Shenoy, who filed a petition in the Delhi high court related to aviation safety, said that the matter is listed for hearing on Monday.

According to DIAL, the survey was conducted in 2016-17 and based on international guidelines related to height restriction around airports.

“Structures which are not removed by owners and are constructed without NOC (no objection certificate) issued by AAI or in violation of norms will be demolished after following due process defined in The Aircraft (Demolition of Obstructions caused by Buildings and Trees etc.) Rules, 1994. These structures are located in various areas around airport. The norms protect area around 20 kms of the airport. However most of the identified obstacles are within 4 kms,” DIAL said.

The last such survey was conducted by DIAL in 2010; this is the first time the airport operator has issued notices, though.

First Published: Sep 14, 2018 02:33 IST