Contrary to the claims made by M/s Chalet Hotels while getting No Objection Certificate from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the residential apartment project Raheja Vivarea in Bengaluru’s Koramangala area, Karnataka State Remote Sensing Application Centre(KSRSAC) has estimated the height of the construction spot of Raheja Vivarea to be 892 metres Above Mean Sea Level (AMSL).
The immediate implication of this is that Raheja Vivarea can not construct any of the blocks in the proposed complex beyond 13 floors, or 40 metres.
Earlier, a group of concerned residents had written to Defence Minister A K Antony, highlighting the difference in the elevation of the project site above sea level, as projected by the builder, M/s Chalet Hotels (870 metres) and as available in Survey of India -1970 maps and Google maps (892 metres). This data was used to get the height clearance for Raheja Vivarea from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd airport, which is a defence establishment.
In response to this, residents believe that the Defence Minister must have directed HAL to take necessary steps, who in turn revoked the NOC given to Raheja Vivarea.
The builder of Raheja Vivarea, M/s Chalet Hotels, submitted a petition in high court, questioning the revoking of NOC by HAL. The court ordered a survey by Karnataka State Remote Sensing Application Centre to know the actual Above Mean Sea Level elevation of the project site.
The remote sensing centre submitted its report to High Court on September 3, 2013, as directed by the court in its the previous hearing, a copy of which is available with Citizen Matters.
Story from inside the High Court
In the first hearing on August 28, 2013, High Court judge H Billappa ordered a study on the same. The KSRSAC was directed to inspect the survey no. 21, 22, 42, 52, and 1B of Koramangala Industrial Layout and measure the elevation. Both the parties were asked to be present at the time of investigation, on September 3, 2013.
Accordingly a survey was done and photographs were taken for documentary proof. The High Court ordered that the results of the survey be submitted in a closed envelope on September 5, 2013.
In the next hearing, on September 6, 2013, the court opened the envelope and retained a copy for the court and the other two were given to the respective counsellors.
The hearing was adjourned to September 20, 2013 and the respondent was asked to maintain the order passed on first hearing on the maintenance of the status quo, till the next hearing.
Height found to be 892 metres
KSRSAC report says that they conducted a Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) and FLY Level Survey to ascertain the elevation of the said property. For this, six different points or benchmarks were chosen, which defined the boundaries of the project.
The property is spread in a ‘Z’ shape. These points define the outer boundaries of the entire plot. Point 1 and Point 6 showed almost the same height – 892.41 and 892.11 metre respectively. Point 2, 3, 4, and 5 showed some minor difference in elevation, ranging between 891.45 metres and 891.51 metres.
The report was authenticated by KSRSAC Director D K Prabhuraj. Overall height of the property was calculated on a benchmark position, which was called as “BM. NO. 1124”. This point is located at a latitude of 12 degrees 55 minutes 21.23 seconds North and Longitude of 77 degrees 37 minutes 52.575 seconds East. The elevation at this particular location was calculated as 892.33 metres.
Aviation safety rules bar construction above 932 metres
A Gazette Notification dated January 14, 2010, issued under section 9 (A) of the Indian Aircraft Act 1934 prohibits construction of any infrastructure above 932 metres AMSL within four km radius of an airport, also known as Inner Horizontal Surface (IHS).
This calculation of AMSL also effectively limits the construction of properties in this area to 932 AMSL – that is approximately 40 metres from the ground. HAL Aerodrome is a defence airport. Therefore, 4 km radius from the reference point is considered while calculating the permissible AMSL.
Para 1.4 of the Gazette notification mentions the dimensions and permissible heights of inner horizontal surface. HAL’s runway’s length is 3,306 metres in length and 45 metres in width. It is elevated at a height of 875 metres. Hence the height of any infrastructure within the inner horizontal surface is restricted to 932 AMSL.
864/870 metres ground altitude projected from the beginning
M/s John Fowler India Pvt Ltd was the original owner of survey no. 21, 22, 42, 52, and 1 B of Koramangala, who procured the height clearance from AAI for the property and eventually sold it to Chalet Hotels. After this, Chalet Hotels too took a clearance by HAL after procuring a certified letter from Ambedkar Institute of Technology, stating that the AMSL was 870 metres.
Chalet Hotel rebuts charges
In response to a request from Citizen Matters, an email statement by M/s Chalet Hotel said: “The core issue that the existing construction unto full height is safe, has been confirmed by an Aeronautical Study by a reputed Expert. Chalet`s submission in Court is that since the full height construction which exists for over a year, does not ‘adversely affect aircraft operations’ (which is a pre-condition to be established for any action, as stated in the NOC given by HAL) there should be no cause for any apprehension or action.”
“However in the interest of clarity and safety, a 2nd study was contemplated. As HAL is now not agreeable for a 2nd independent study (by AAI, or by any other independent agency), and has unauthorisedly cancelled the NOC without survey and study and without giving any opportunity of hearing, Chalet has moved the court for independent survey and aeronautical study to ascertain ground and upper safety levels, and for quashing the cancellation letter.”
However, an anonymous letter dated December 30, 2010 written to General Manager, Airport Authority of India, a copy of which is available with Citizen Matters, alleged that M/s John Fowler India Pvt Ltd has indulged in gross irregularity in procuring NOC from AAI.
The letter attached the NOC for height clearance issued for Kolte Patil Floriana and M/s John Fowler India Pvt Ltd‘s NOC, with the letter to AAI. Kolte Patil Floriana‘s NOC mentioned the elevation of their property as 892 metres, while M/s John Fowler India Pvt Ltd NOC projected an AMSL of 864 metres. The letter had argued that there cannot be a difference of 30 metres between two adjoining sites.
Kolte Patil Floriana is a residential complex beside the Raheja Vivarea. On the right of Raheja Vivarea stands Raheja’s eight-floor building, Raheja Residency and adjacent to it stands Kolte Patil Floriana. The letter claimed itself as written by the Kolte Patil Residents Association – a non-existant organisation, however the NOC documents attached look authentic.
Raheja Vivarea – construction status
HAL counsellor reported that the Raheja Vivarea had proposed the construction of 9 blocks of 62 metres height. According to CREDAI, approximately a floor is equal to three metres. Therefore 62 metres will be equal to approximately 20 to 21 floors.
These blocks were to be categorised alphabetically from A to I. Presently, five buildings with 17 floors have already been constructed.A and B blocks have completed 15 floors. Two buildings (G and H blocks) have finished constructing 12 floors and the last building (I block) has 6 floors ready.
HAL’s counsellor’s calculation stated that Chalet Hotel must not proceed above 13th floor which is equal to 40 metres. It effectively means that the extra floors constructed will have to be demolished. This is at the core of the dispute.
Updated: 14.28 pm, October 1,2013.