Kerala lawyer explains motive behind PIL for demolishing illegal structures around Mumbai airport



By Accommodation Times Bureau

Petitioner Yeshwanth Shenoy -the Cochin-based lawyer, whose PIL resulted in High Court order; 8 days back; to dismantle 400-plus buildings around the Mumbai airport, was in Mumbai on Thursday. On asking about the HC order passed as a result of his petition he said, “Today, everybody is blaming Yeshwanth Shenoy. But, when there is an air crash, they will not blame Yeshwanth Shenoy, but will ask why these buildings were allowed in the first place.”

In Mumbai where to own a real estate or a home is a trail of prosperity and relief, the Bombay High Court order on Wednesday, has sent tremors through the residential belt near Mumbai airport.  The High Court has asked the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and other agencies to devastate or reduce the height of around 427 buildings in violation of the norms.

And all this, within the next two months! It has shivered the rucks who own their residents near Mumbai Airport.

Petitioner Yeshwanth Shenoy recollects what set him off on this path. “My mission began in 2010, after the Mangalore air crash.” On May 22, an Air India Express Flight 812 from Dubai to Mangalore passed beyond the runway while landing , walloping  the illegal constructions there , after which the aircraft caught fire and out of the 160 passengers and six crew members on board, only eight survived !”  That disaster had shuddered the lawyer that was the third deadliest aviation disaster in India.

“That was the starting point”, Adds Shenoy, “From then on, I dug out documents which proved that lives could have been saved had certain safety norms been met in Mangalore.”

On asking about the reason of his focus after Manglore  to Mumbai, He answered , “ I fly in to Mumbai very often for work. Every time we land, it is a thud, thud, thud, instead of a smooth landing. I have talked to so many Mumbai pilots, who, when I tell them about the landings say to me, ‘do you even know the obstacles we face?’ Look at the slums near the airport, in case of an accident; you may have 5,000 to 10,000 lives gone in a trice.”

Mr Yashwant Shenoy said, “My vision broadened after my research into the Mangalore crash. I read the newspapers and followed numerous reports about a developer’s building of over 20 meters getting a No Objection Certificate (NOC) despite it being very close to the main airport runway. I filed a PIL. I estimate that there could be at least 8,000 such obstacles within an 11-km radius near the airport.”

He said, “I don’t have any personal grudges with Mumbai!!  Why should there be a personal motive? A lawyer may fight for his clients, but he should have to look at the bigger picture also, the greater good of society. He has a public duty to do so.” The responsible lawyer has set off on a great path, if Indians could imitate such intellections, wouldn’t India be a differ place to live in!


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