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HC orders demolition of bldgs near defence structures

Bombay High Court

Mumbai: Observing that construction of multi-storeyed buildings near defence installations at Lohegaon village in Pune pose a danger to national security and people, the Bombay High Court today directed the Pune civic body to demolish such illegal structures within a year.

All such buildings that have come up when the PIL was filed in 2003, should be demolished, a division bench ruled.

“Such illegalities, which compromise with the security of the defence installations, cannot be tolerated…Therefore, all the concerned authorities are under a legal obligation to remove offending structures/constructions,” said a division bench of Justices Abhay Oka and Anil Menon.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Manjinderjeet Singh and another resident of Pune,  challenging the construction of multi-storeyed buildings that have come up in the vicinity of Air Force station/aerodrome at Lohegaon in Pune.

According to the petition, the Air Force establishment at Pune gives coverage and protects the oil rigs off the coast of Gujarat and Mumbai, habha Atomic Research Centre in Mumbai, Ammunition Factory at Kirkee, National Defence Academy at Khadakvasala near Pune and various other important establishments in the region.

The PIL alleged that several buildings have come up in breach of government notifications issued under Works of Defence Act which restricts use and enjoyment of land in the vicinity of works of defence.

The PIL challenged structures in violation of five government notifications. One of them was Ministry of Defence notification dated July 4, 1966, which bans construction and plantation of trees within 900 metres from the perimeter of bomb dump at Wagholi in Pune and missile installation at Viman Nagar, Pune.

Another notification dated October 1, 1975, cited in the petition, puts restrictions on the use of land located within a distance of 1,000 yards from the crest of the outer parapet of the bomb dump of Air Force station at Pune.

It also referred to another notification dated January 5, 1988, issued by Ministry of Civil Aviation, which prevents construction of any structure and tree plantation within a specified distance near the civil and military Aerodromes (listed in the said notification) from the funnels of the runway and from the runway strip.

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