HC raps HAL for delayed action on height violation

The HC is considering options which can protect the interest of Raheja Vivarea investors, as well as ensure public safety.

High Court judge Justice Venugopala Gowda, during the hearing between Chalet Hotel v/s HAL on Tuesday, March 25th, 2014, observed that HAL failed to crosscheck the height elevation submitted by the Chalet hotel to construct Raheja Viverea at Koramangala.

Doubting on the authenticity of the height certificate procured by Precision Survey and Ambedkar Institute, Justice Venugopala Gowda said, “The certificate doesn’t even have BBMP’s letterhead. It has the letter head of company.”

What is BBMP’s role in this issue?

Ministry of Civil Aviation Notification no. SO84, dated January 14th, 2010 mandates all vertical structures near airport to procure a height certificate from an agency/ civil engineer certified from government body. This agency measures height of the ground elevation and provides a certificate. This certificate is required to be authenticated from local authority — usually the Town Planning engineers of BDA/BBMP who authenticate the certificates.

Showing the court the certificate given in the letter head of the company, the Judge asked, “How can you trust such certificates? Didn’t you get any doubt on this? Why didn’t you insist on resurveying? Why didn’t you crosscheck the given data?”

The counsel for HAL, Pradeep Savkar said that the government of India did not provide any funds for HAL to purchase the necessary infrastructure or facilities to check the height elevation. As a result, the NOC was given on express understanding that the information given to them was true.

Judge slammed HAL for not being unaccountable. Venugopala said, “Air Force is supposed to be the best, but you appear to be the worst.” Judge asked what was HAL  doing for 22 months when the NOC was given (from October 28th 2011 till the date of revoking the NOC). “After wasting crores of rupees and natural resources, after making huge investment, you (HAL) realised the building violates the law. Rather, you didn’t have any concern for public safety. When the public coaxed the Ministry of Aviation, you woke up and revoked the NOC.”

Counsel for HAL told the Judge that verifying the information submitted by each builder is not possible, but HAL has re-surveyed the NOCs given till date. Accordingly six NOCs were marked as obtained by submitting wrong information. The builders have been given chance to rectify the errors and they have been doing it, added the counsel. He told the court that even Chalet Hotels was asked to rectify the errors by re-surveying but they refused to do so.

Re-surveying, or Aeronautical survey?

Keeping in view the investments made by the developer and the consumers of the Raheja Viverea and also the public safety, Judge Venugopala sought to know what study can be done to figure out whether the building in litigation will affect public safety.

HAL has been insisting on re-surveying elevation of the ground by Karnataka Remote Sensing Agency or Survey Map of India on the grounds that the two have the facility to measure the height.

However, Chalet Hotel Counselor, Uday Holla requested the court to opt for the Aeronautical Study. Referring to NOC Para 3, “If however at any stage it is established that the said data as tendered by the said applicant is actually different from the one tendered and which could adversely affect the aircraft operations, the structure of part (s) thereof in respect of which this NOC is issued will have to be demolished at its own cost as directed by HAL airport, Bangalore.” In order to verify whether the building structure affects the aircraft operation or not, the counsel pressed on the need to carry out Aeronautical study.

Aeronautical study not applicable?

Ministry of Civil Aviation notification SO 84 says that “the Aeronautical Study may be conducted for structures required for aviation or aeronautical purposes. Aeronautical Study will not be permitted in approach surfaces and transitional surfaces of the airport. Structures of national importance and public utilities duly recommended/justified by the state authorities, may be considered for Aeronautical study by the Appellate Committee. The following procedures will be applicable for the conduct of Aeronautical Study for sites around the airports.

However, HAL on September 26, 2013, has issued a new guideline which does not fall in sync with the Gazette Notification SO 84. It states that HAL being a defence aerodrome, Aeronautical Study is not applicable.

Saajan Poovaya, counsel for the investors (buyer) of Raheja Viverea, representing the 162 buyers of Raheja Viverea impleaded the cases on the grounds that the buyers have invested nearly Rs.135 Crore after taking loan from various banks.

No order was passed and the hearing was adjourned to the next day, March 26th, 2013.

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