Settlements around Bidar air base a threat to safety
The Government has failed to enforce building regulations
The rules prohibit residential buildings in a radius of 900 m from the air base The Government can deny permission for construction of buildings A circular issued by the Bidar Urban Development Authority is vague Minister plans to convene a meeting to discuss the issue
Bidar: The State Government's failure to enforce the prohibition on civilian settlements in a radius of 900 m around the Air Force Training Base here has compromised safety.
On March 18, an aircraft of the "Surya Kiran" aerobatics team of the Indian Air Force crashed on the outskirts of Bidar killing two pilots. The wreckage of the aircraft fell less than 40 ft from a college building and 200 m from a residential area. Air Force sources say the pilots avoided loss of civilian life by diverting the flight path just before the crash.
Senior IAF officials say the Government should, without further delay, enforce the prohibition on civilian settlements in a radius of 900 m around the training base. The Aircraft Act seeks to ensure the safety of planes and life and property of civilians by prohibiting residential buildings around IAF installations.
Section 9A of the Act prohibits construction of buildings and planting of trees in a specified area. According to the Aircraft (Demolition of obstructions caused by buildings, trees etc.) Rules, 1994, this is "an area in a radius of 900 m around the airstrip of the base", or "nose area". Aircraft fly at low altitude in the area and is susceptible to bird hits. The best way to avoid an accident is not to allow residential buildings in the area, Air Force sources say.
As per the Act, the Government can prohibit the construction of buildings or limit their height. It can direct the owners of buildings to demolish structures. If they fail to do so, it has powers to take up the task.
However, it is learnt that the Government has not enforced the law. A circular in this regard issued by the Bidar Urban Development Authority in 2002 is incomplete as it does not specify which residential areas around the air base are covered under the rule.
The airstrip at the Bidar Base was laid 130 years ago, and the Nizam used it for movement of troops and equipment. The base was brought under the control of the IAF in 1964, and Jawaharlal Nehru was the first leader of independent India to use the airstrip. Bidar will become an important Air Force training base once Hawk aircraft are stationed here next year.
Minister in charge of Bidar district and Agriculture Minister Bandeppa Kashempur said he is aware of the problem caused by non-enforcement of the prohibition of settlements around the base. "We will soon convene a meeting of officials of the Government and the IAF and see what can be done. We have concern for life and property and high regard for Air Force rules," he said.
Air Force Public Relations Officer Wing Commander V.M. Raghunath said it is important to regulate civilian settlements around the base. Air traffic in Bidar will increase once the Hawks arrive. Regulating residential buildings around the base will reduce the possibility of accidents, he added.