The developer was permitted construction up to 13.19m by the Airports Authority of India, but built up to 24.7m or ground-plus-six floors.
A bench of Justice Vidyasagar Kanade and Justice Swapna Joshi made the observation while hearing an application by Sai Leela Corporation, the developer of Sunita Cooperative Housing Society, on P M Road in Santacruz urging a stay on the demolition.
The developer was permitted construction up to 13.19m by the Airports Authority of India, but built up to 24.7m or ground-plus-six floors. On August 10, the court vacated a status quo order passed by another bench in December 2014 and directed the BMC to demolish the illegal floors.
The developer’s advocate, Divya Shah, argued that the height was calculated incorrectly and until it’s fixed, there must be a stay on demolition. Senior advocate S U Kamdar, appearing for Mumbai International Airport Limited, which owns and operates the airport, said the building is in the approach surface of the runway. “You can’t ask me not to remove it,” said Kamdar. He claimed the developer misrepresented that the location of the plot is in the transitional surface when it was in the approach surface, where the height permissible for buildings is less.
Shah urged that the developer be given an opportunity to be heard, but the judges said the developer was seeking stay in spite of flagrant violation. “You should have demolished on your own. Ample opportunity was given to you,” said Justice Kanade.
When an advocate for the flat purchasers pointed out that “they are the ultimate sufferers”, the judges reminded that any untoward incident would affect other residents of the building. “A single (plane) crash never took place,” added Shah. Kamdar said every three minutes there is a take-off and landing at the airport and hundreds of people would be affected.
The judges were resolute. “There will be zero tolerance for such kind of constructions near the airport. That much we can tell you (developer). You must understand the risk involved,” said Justice Kanade sternly.
The matter will be heard on September 20 when the main PIL on the threat faced by aircraft due to highrises will be heard.