Chalet Hotels Private Limited, promoted by K Raheja Corp Group, has sued Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), for revoking the No Objection Certificate (NOC) given for the construction of Raheja Vivarea, near HAL surroundings. The hearing of WP 37571/2103, Chalet Hotel V/s Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, took place on 28 August, 2013.
Earlier, residents of Koramangala, under the banner of Koramangala Infrastructure Task Force, had written to Defence Minister A K Antony urging him to take action regarding what was supposedly an illegal NOC granted by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to Raheja Builders. The Defence Minister in turn had ordered HAL to cancel the NOC.
Hotel Chalet had sought an NOC from HAL on October 2011, to construct Raheja Vivarea, a residential apartment complex, on survey nos. 22, 42, 52 and 1B in Koramangala, Jakkasandra.
The height of the proposed buildings was 63 metres. The area falls within 4 kms of Inner Horizontal Zone of HAL, where planes take off or land, said the letter by citizens, written to the Defence Minister.
Wrong info on height submitted by builders
The NOC was approved after the submission of a certified letter from Ambedkar Institute of Technology to Raheja that the land on which the building is proposed is 870 meters Above Mean Sea Level (AMSL). The above letter was countersigned by BBMP and forwarded to HAL for approval.
However, the residents believe that HAL failed to investigate the submission even after receiving directions from BBMP, and provided the NOC. This is because, the maps by Survey of India and google maps show that the actual Above Mean Sea Level height at the area is 890- 892 metres, not 870 metres as claimed by Rahejas.
The HAL has permitted Rahejas to construct the building up to 62 meters, taking the overall height to 932 metres Above Mean Sea Level, if the AMSL is 870 metres. However, since the Survey of India map has shown that the level is 890 meters, total height would go up to 952 metres.
This has got them additional 20 metres, and hence approximately additional six floors, claims the letter. “Chalet Hotel plans to build these buildings over 10 blocks, which will benefit Raheja a total of Rs. 200 Crore,” says the letter.
Both the maps show 865 meters as the lowest AMSL, at Bellandur Lake. Technically, if the property is at 870 metres of AMSL, then it would have to be a valley area. Constructing anything in a valley area is anyway illegal.
NOC retains the right to demolish
Residents point at HAL’s inefficiency to verify the data especially when these documents are supposed to be primarily possessed by HAL.
However HAL in the NOC had also mentioned that, if at any stage, it is found that the data provided by Chalet is untrue or has an adverse affect on aircraft operations, the structure that received NOC will be demolished at a cost to be borned by the builder.
The building is located amid a well-established housing locality. Residents alleged that, Raheja’s construction is not only a threat to airplane safety but also to residents and institutions like schools, colleges and nursing homes around.
Letter to Defence Minister
Even after bringing illegality of Raheja construction to HAL’s notice, “Authorities delayed any action or obfuscated the issue,” allege the residents.
They finally wrote to Defence Minister A K Antony, explaining the failure of HAL to authenticate tenders that are based on AMSL. Residents also requested to revoke NOC given to Raheja and to set up a committee to investigate on similar such cases since 2008.
On A K Antony’s direction, the NOC was revoked immediately.
Court orders Remote Sensing study
Chalet Hotel’s counsel in the High Court criticised HAL for waking up from sleep after two years. He also said that many stakeholders have already invested in the apartment and will be at loss soon. Construction labourers will lose their job too, argued the counsel.
Justice H Billappa ordered Karnataka Remote Sensing Center to carry out survey and report back on 6 September, 2013, on the date which the next hearing will take place.
Both the Rahejas and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd declined to comment on the query by Citizen Matters on the case.
Govt reaches out to HAL?
However, some sources pointed to a recent report by Times of India. The report claims that Chief Secretary S V Ranganath has written to HAL asking it to increase the radar level, so that there’s no problem for high rises to come up in the vicinity.
HAL declined to divulge the details of any such letter received, when enquired by Citizen Matters.
The report also says that developers like Sobha and Mantri have approached AAI to conduct an aeronautical study of certain CBD areas to ascertain safe-height regulations.
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Oh NO Mr. Ranganath!! How could you do it, and that too towards the end of your career?
This is a terrible request that you have made to HAL. No matter how high a demand the builders might make, no matter what price they are prepared to pay, you can not barter away the safety, lives and lifestyles of the citizens of Bangalore, particularly those living in the vicinity of HAL airport just because it suits a particular lobby. CREDAI has made the demand for its commercial interests – any one can see that. But coming at a time when there is a pending dispute in the High Court where a builder from Mumbai is alleged to be involved for having undertaken building an apartment complex way beyond the safety limits laid down by HAL, the timing appears odd. Your suggestion and those of CREDAI are put to the following tests:
1. Bangalore is not like Mumbai, Shanghai, Hongkong or Singapore where space is the single most vital constraint. Why cant the builders put up high rise buildings on Bangalore’s outskirts and develop second tier townships?
2. Comparisons have been made with other airports in cities like Mumbai and Delhi, Hongkong etc. etc. But there is a huge difference. Those are commercial airports where operating aircrafts use the latest, tested technology for navigation and landing. HAL is NOT a commercial airport. It is a testing ground where it tests aircrafts and related equipment which are in development stage. These require far greater safety limits, not only for the aircraft and its crew, but for thousands and thousands of unsuspecting population living in its vicinity. The comparisons are therefore ridiculous if not bizzare.
3. Bangalore has grown (prematurely?) beyond manageable proportions and the civic bodies are unable to cope with simple but essential services required for its population, like water, sewage, garbage and most importantly roads are not capable of absorbing the huge increase in vehicular traffic in Bangalore, adding more vehicles on roads every day. You have failed to provide infrastructure support to its existing population, and now you want to add to the burden without first telling us how you propose to maintain our existing lifestyles? What, pray is your vision of Bangalore and its population for the future? The judiciary is directing you not to sanction more layouts without first ensuring water availability, yet you want to add to the density by other means?
With every successive government, that comes to power under different political dispensations, one hopes for a change for the better, hoping that lessons from past mistakes would have been learnt, but what seems obvious is that no matter which party comes to power, it is the builders lobby that governs.
At the end of one’s professional innings, one would like to be remembered by the legacy that he/she leaves behind. What should the Bangolreans look forward to?
Going through the story, I do not understand the basis of being sued. Specially, when the builder himself has submitted misleading measurements/ data to HAL for the NOC.
Anyways, the stage is now ripe for several agencies to step in and play the ‘save the day’ for the builder.
Logically, soon after revoking NOC, HAL should have filed criminal charges against Chalet for providing misleading data and stopped construction. That could have limited all the unnecessary actions.