I received in my hotmail account a Press Release about the Supreme Court
order in the Managalore Airport Expansion (at the end of this message).
The 'win' is similar to the 'win' on 16.09.02 in the matter of 2000 HIG
flats that DDA had started building on green belt in Rangpuri Pahari near
Vasant Kunj / Sultangarhi. (Delhi High Court stopped the construction
without land use change by due process and, taking serious note of DDA
itself having violated its Act, also ordered an inquiry).

I do not know any more if it is heartening that courts say the state must
abide by law or disheartening that they have to say so. It is surely
disheartening that compliance by the state of such directions cannot be
simply assumed. In the Rangpuri Pahari matter, citizens are still policing
the state in a protracted holding operation. I am separately posting part
of a letter sent two days back, which outlines this.

I think we need to talk about court (especially PIL) driven urban
development. Interpretation with specificity of 'public interest' in such
matters requires expertise not only of lawyers but also of urban
professionals. In the Rangpuri Pahari matter I can say with certainty that
the 'win' in court and the subsequent citizens' holding operation owes to
the fact that they have recruited professional planner services. But this
model seems constrained by all-round professional apathy, if not outright
moral and/or intellectual bankruptcy, about the very real politics of
urban development and by a very inadequate perspective of 'alternative'
professional practice.

Gita Dewan Verma / Planner / 08.03.03


07 March 2003
Mangalore Airport Expansion to proceed only if Legal - Supreme Court
orders Government shall build 2nd Runway only in full compliance of Law

The Hon'ble Supreme Court of India has clarified in its order dated 07
February 2003 that "in constructing the Airport" (2nd Runway and Terminal
Tower at Mangalore), "the Government shall comply with all applicable laws
and also with environmental norms."

Hon'ble Mr Justice S. N. Variava and Hon'ble Mr. Justice B. N. Agrawal of
the Hon'ble Supreme Court made this order whilst dismissing a Special
Leave Petition No. CC1172/2003 filed by Environment Support Group and
others, challenging the order of the High Court of Karnataka dated 27 May
2002, in Writ Petition 20905/2002, filed by Arthur Pereira and others.

The Airports Authority of India proposed to expand the Mangalore Airport
at the behest of the Mangalore Chamber of Commerce and Industry during
1987. For various reasons the project remained without progress for long,
even though land acquisition proceedings were initiated. A total area of
190 acres abutting the existing Mangalore Airport was identified to build
a 2nd Runway and Terminal Tower to enable landings of Airbus 320 class of
aircraft, and also for international flight movements. The land identified
for building the 2nd Runway involved a southward direction from the
existing short runway that allowed only flight movements of Boeing 737 and
smaller aircraft. This land was along a cliff, with a drop of about 100
metres on all sides except where there was interconnection with the old
terminal building. Such topography was inherently unsuitable for the
building of such an airport, as it would never allow compliance with any
national and international standard for airport construction and design.
This was pointed out by local communities that resisted the development
under the banner of the Vimana Nildhana Vistharana Virodhi Samithi
(Airport Expansion Opposition Committee).

A more appropriate location for the expansion of the airport would have
been towards north from the existing runway. However, this option was not
even considered as the acquisition of such lands would displace about 70
large landholding families, most being highly connected politically.
Instead the Government of Karnataka decided to acquire for expansion land
that would displace 208 families, mostly from a Dalit background, several
of whom were settled here from bonded labour immediately after

A decade long resistance by the project affected communities was
repeatedly ignored by the Government, even when it was highlighted that
project as proposed, if built, would be in fundamental violation of
Aircraft Act of India, the binding standards prescribed by the
International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the National Building
Code of India, Environment Protection Act, and the Town and Country
Planning Act. The specific violations of standards would be as follows:
1. The minimum required width of the basic strip for an instrument runway
has to be 300 metres. The proposed 2nd Runway has a total physical width
of only 200 metres. This stringent standard has to be complied with per
the Aircraft Act of India (vide Notification of Ministry of Civil Aviation
No. SO988 dated 5th January 1988) and Annex 14 of the ICAO standards which
is binding as India is a signatory to the Treaty. The reason this standard
is fundamental is because in the case of an instrument runway, the pilot
should be able to land or take off merely on the strength of instrument
support and without sighting the runway. To provide for instrument or
human error, this minimum width is mandatory. This standard also provides
eminently for emergency evacuations measures. In the proposed project,
there is a 100 metres drop all around the 200 metres available for the
basic strip of the runway. This is highly constraining in the occurrence
of an error, and provides for absolutely no emergency evacuation measure.
2. Techno-Economic feasibility report should be the basis for acquisition
of land, but no such report exists till date. Land acquisition process was
instead initiated without any such basis, resulting in the displacement of
208 families.
3. An Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) of the project is mandatory
according to the Environment Impact Assessment Notification issued per the
Environment Protection Act. Such a study is yet to be initiated. Following
this there is the mandatory requirement to hold a Public Hearing, which
has not and cannot be held except on the basis of the EIA. It may be
pertinent to point out here that the municipal waste disposal facility of
Mangalore is within four kilometers of the proposed runway, when Rule 81B
of the Aircraft Rules explicitly state that such facilities should not be
within 10 kms of an airport. Further, the 9 mtpa Mangalore Refineries and
Petrochemicals Refinery is situated within 4 kms. and the 220 KVA high
tension transmission lines run within 1.5 kms. of the approach funnel of
the proposed 2nd Runway. Standards prescribe that the refinery should be 8
kms. away, and the transmission line at least 3 kms. away from the runway
as it may interfere electronically with aircraft instruments.
4. A proposal detailing the scheme should be made available to the public
for comment per the Town and Country Planning Act for a period of sixty
days. This has not been made available.

Pressing these points a case was made before the High Court of Karnataka
first during 1997 in Writ Petition No. 37681. The Hon'ble Court dismissed
the petition on grounds that it was "premature". Thereafter, another
Public Interest Petition was filed in Writ Petition 20905 during 2002. The
Hon'ble Court dismissed this petition stating that the petitioners have
"not been able to show how the construction of 2nd Runway and Terminal
Tower in Mangalore Airport will be against the public interest". The Court
however ordered that the "Authorities concerned have to complete all
formalities as per law before commencement of the project. Accordingly,
this Writ Petition is dismissed. However, it is made clear that the
dismissal of this Petition will not preclude the concerned Authorities to
take all necessary precaution and to complete the formalities as per law
before proceeding with the project in question." The instant SLP
challenging this order of the High Court was dismissed by the Hon'ble
Supreme Court with the explicit clarification that "the Government shall
comply with all applicable laws and also with environmental norms." The
operative word here is shall, for unless the project is developed per the
requisite standards, the 2nd Runway and Terminal Tower shall not be built
at all.

Arthur Pereira Petitioner
Leo F. Saldanha Coordinator Environment Support Group Petitioner

SLP(C)... 1172 OF 2003
ITEM No.16 Court No. 8 SECTION IVA
Petition(s) for Special Leave to Appeal(Civil)......./2003 (CC:1172)
(From the judgement and order dated 27/05/2002 in WP 20905/2002 of The
UNION OF INDIA & ORS. Respondent (s)
( With I.A. 1 - for c/delay in filing SLP )
Date : 07/02/2003
This Petition was called on for hearing today.
For Petitioner (s) Mr. Colin Gonsalves, Adv. Ms. Aparna Bhat,Adv. Ms.
Sweta Kakkad, Adv.
For Respondent (s)
UPON hearing counsel the Court made the following O R D E R
...........L.......I.......T.......T.......T.......T.......T.....J. .
SP2 Delay condoned. We see no reason to interfere with the impugned order.
Accordingly, the special leave petition is dismissed. We, however, clarify
that in constructing the Airport, the Government shall comply with all
applicable laws and also with environmental norms.
(K.K. Chawla) Court Master
(Jasbir Singh) Court Master