A mosque’s minaret that dangerously protrudes onto the glide path of Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) and Juhu airport, posing hazard to flight operations, has come under the radar of the Intelligence Bureau.
The ministry of home affairs (MHA) has asked the civil aviation authorities to take immediate action on the allegedly illegal portion of the minaret as it could prove to be disastrous for aircrafts landing and taking off.
The minaret, which stands next to the BEST depot in Santa Cruz, poses an obstacle to runway 09 of the CSIA and runway 34 of Juhu airport, airport sources said. The MHA’s recent order comes against the backdrop of apparent lack of action in the issue by the aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
While Juhu airport authorities in July urged the DGCA to take required action, the regulator said it was the job of airport concerned to take action. However, Juhu airport officials wrote back to the regulator, citing a DGCA circular with the Aircraft Rules, 1994 (Demolition of obstructions caused by buildings and trees, etc).
According to the circular, if the DGCA, on examination of details forwarded by airport authorities, is satisfied about the illegality of the structure and gives the property owner (of the obstruction) an opportunity of being heard, it shall pass an order sanctioning its demolition.
In case the owners of the obstruction fail to demolish it, the DGCA is required to report the matter to the district collector, who has to raze the unauthorised structure. “If we directly approach the district collector regarding the demolition, they will show us the rule book again,” said a senior airport official.
While Juhu airport officials are waiting for further communication from the DGCA in the matter, CSIA officials remained unavailable for comment at the time of going to press. Deputy director (western region), DGCA, A Khanna said he was unaware about the intricacies of the issues and would be able to reply only after checking with his office.
The Juhu airport authorities have informed the DGCA that they have learnt from the NOC cell of western region of AAI that no NOC for height clearance has been issued for the site. The Juhu airport officials, further in their communication to the DGCA, added that the obstacle has an elevation of 33.5 mts at a distance of 425 mts from threshold of runway 34 and as per NOC cell, it is protruding into the protected surface by approximately 10 mts.
Juhu airport to take charge or the DGCA?
Despite the evident dangers that the minaret poses, there is confusion over who is actually supposed to take action. When the Juhu airport authorities had urged the DGCA to act on the issue in July, the regulator had replied stating that the airport concerned should take responsibility, citing a DGCA circular concerning demolition of obstructions caused by buildings, trees, etc.