Tuesday 16 Apr 2024

Compensate legal houses in funnel area of airport

| FEBRUARY 22, 2024, 12:39 AM IST

The Mormugao Planning and Development Authority (MPDA) continued its demolition drive on Tuesday and razed portions of three more houses in the Dabolim Airport Funnel Zone. Last week a total of 11 houses were partially demolished due to height restrictions of the Navy.

The house owners have claimed that they have all the valid permissions and approvals from panchayat and TCP, besides NOCs from the Naval authorities. They contend that they were permitted to construct houses with a height of 3.5 metres which is now been directed to be reduced to 1.6 metres, and this applies to houses which have opted for a lower-than-permissible ceiling height.

While the Navy may be guided by the Civil Aviation notification of 2015 which prescribed such restrictions on structures in the funnel zones of airports across the country, those residents who have legally built houses have been unfortunately at the wrong end for no fault of theirs.

The prescribed 1.6 metre height of a residential structure is not only impractical from a living standpoint, but going by this parameter people will have to make uncomfortable adjustments in their day-to-day lives. Secondly, many of these residents have availed of loans to put up these houses.

The Navy must take a sympathetic and more humanitarian view of the situation and compensate those who were given a NOC earlier and those who have all other clearances and legally standing houses. Financial aid could help those crippled by this blow to rebuild their lives and move on.

The Navy, by not trying to hear out the residents or understand their plight are breaking down the very bridges they were trying to build over the past few years with ordinary citizens. The approach adopted here is authoritarian and does not bode well in an environment where the Navy and civilians co-exist.

On the flip side, authorities and those catering to vote-bank politics must understand that they are largely responsible for allowing illegal structures to mushroom in the Dabolim Airport area. While the MPDA has begun bulldozing structures in the funnel zone, it should also raze down all other illegal structures that have been standing tall in the area.

It was not too long ago that the High Court of Bombay at Goa directed the Navy to initiate action against unauthorised constructions in the vicinity when it was pointed out that the State government ignored communication by naval authorities about illegal structures. The Flag Officer had earlier told the court that despite writing to the MPDA, Chicalim panchayat and various government departments no efforts have been taken to stop illegal constructions in the area, which he stated were going on in full swing. In one of the hearings, the court was told by naval authorities that on inspection it was found there were around 75 illegal structures that had come up in the funnel area of the airport.

The rule of the land must prevail and illegalities must be wiped off, but at the same time, injustices to those who have diligently followed the law must be sorted out. In the current scenario, the residents of the area must be heard.

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