Bombay High Court disposes of PIL challenging legality of NOC issued by AAI in favour of MMRDA
The Bombay High Court has disposed of a PIL challenging the legality of No Objection Certificate issued by the Respondent No.1 (Airports Authority of India) in favour of Respondent No.2 (Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority) for construction of an over ground metro rail line, funnel zone to the east of the surface and take off line of 26 & 8 at Juhu Airport.
The PIL has been filed by one Harit Vipinchandra Desai.
According to the Counsel for the petitioner, the No Objection Certificate issued was contrary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation (Height Restrictions for safeguarding of Aircraft Operation) Rules, 2015.
The impugned NOC would lead as consequential construction, which would result in permanent safety hazard to the operation of aircraft at Juhu Airport and engendering lines of those aircraft as well as of civilians residing and travelling in near-by vicinity.
The High Court took cognisance to the apprehension demonstrated to the petitioner and from time-to-time reduced the take off run available. The affidavit to that effect was also filed.
The Counsel for the petitioner emphasised that it was only with the concern of the said deal, the present PIL was filed. If the Respondent takes up all the safety measures required, then the petitioner certainly would not be interested in stalling the metro project.
The present litigation certainly is not an adversary litigation. The Respondent, also considering the cause, has taken further steps in reducing take off run available , observed by the Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice S.V.Gangapurwala and Justice S.G.Chapalgaonkar.
It was further noted by the High Court that safety assessment has been carried out by Respondent No.1. Respondent No.3 (Director General of Civil Aviation ) has filed affidavit in compliance thereto. The said affidavit reads thus:-
‘……. (2) AAI vide email dated 1 st September 2022 had forwarded the revised details of declared distances for publication in AIP, in which TORA (Take-off Run Available) was reduced to 645 m after displacing the runway of 487 m as part of total runway length 1132 meters.
(3) I say that though submission of the proposed revised TORA reduced to 645 m was not mandated by the provisions of regulations, yet the revised proposal since submitted by the aerodrome operator was examined in the light of the existing regulations, and approval was accorded as per the procedure established and set out in para 4.6.3. of “Manual of Aerodrome Licensing Procedure” and further to ensure the safety of aircraft operation at Juhu airport, the aerodrome operator was advised to do the safety assessment with reference to the displaced threshold.
(4) Accordingly, safety assessment with reference to the displaced threshold was carried out by AAI and a report was submitted to DGCA on16.09.2022. It is stated that the assessment submitted vide the said report, was examined by the answering respondent No.3- DGCA in the light of the existing regulatory provisions and by factoring in the stepwise assessment under the headings of “Step 1: Assess the SIZE OF THE CHANGE”, Ste;p 2: Assess the SAFETY OUTCOME OF THE CHANGE”, Step 3: Assess the OVERALL SAFETY MAGNITUDE OF THE CHANGE”, and Hazard Identification and accordingly, the same have been found to be in order.”
In light of the above, the Bench observed that that safety assessment with reference to the displaced threshold was carried out by Respondent No.1 and report was submitted to Respondent No.1 on 16th September, 2022. Respondent No.3 examined the assessment submitted by the said report dated 16th September, 2022 and has found same to be in order.
Further, on 19th December, 2022, Respondent No.3 has communicated to Respondent No.1 as under:-
“ Reference is invited to AAI’s email dated 16 September, 2022 vide through safety assessment document was submitted in response to this office’s letter dated 05 September, 2022.
After examination, it is concluded that safety assessment has been carried out by using implemented Safety Management System (SMS) at Juhu airport as per standard procedure defined in CAR’s/ Advisory Circular’s and the impact of existing obstacles on aircraft operations at Juhu airport is minimized to acceptable level of safety (ALoS) by adopting & implementing measures. In view of above, the Competent Authority has accepted the safety assessment.
However, AAI is advised to ensure the compliance of following conditions so that level of aircraft safety at Juhu Airport may not degrade at any time.
(1) The control measures specified in safety assessment be meticulously followed at all time.
(2) Review the adequacy of mitigation measures periodically along with airport stakeholders and maintain the records of all activities for scrutiny by DGCA.
(3) Maintain continuous surveillance for Obstacle Limitation Surfaces (OLS) in and around Juhu airport as per operating procedure documented in aerodrome manual.
(4) Promulgate changes to airport stakeholders and DGCA if any observed w.r.f. obstacles for perusal.”
In light of the above, the High Court disposed of the PIL.