Press Release : 22 May 2010
Mangalore Air Crash Tragic Fallout of Criminal Negligence of Planning and Regulatory Authorities by Leo F. Saldanha
Environment Support Group
An Air India Express Boeing 737-800 aircraft arriving from Dubai with 167 on board 2010 tragically crashed at Mangalore International Airport at 6.30 am today (22 May 2010). It is reported that the plane overshot the runway while landing and fell over a cliff resulting in this disastrous crash. Very few are known to have survived this horrific crash.
This was no accident, but the direct result of deliberate failure of officials at the highest level in the Director General of Civil Aviation, Airports Authority of India, Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Government of Karnataka for allowing this 2nd runway to be built in criminal negligence of applicable norms and standards. Such a strong charge is being made as the likelihood of this kind of a crash (the worst case scenario) was predicted. A series of Public Interest Litigations were fought by the undersigned to stop the construction of this 2nd runway in Mangalore airport on grounds that the design simply did not conform to the most basic national and international standards of airport design. The PILs also highlighted that the airport does not conform with the most minimum safeguards for emergency situations – particularly during landings and takeoffs, and could not have emergency approach roads within a kilometre on all sides of the airport as required.
No one in authority cared to listen to our fervent pleas. This even when we demonstrated through a variety of representations that that the site chosen for expansion at Bajpe was surrounded by deep valleys on three sides of the runway and did not provide for emergency landing areas as required.
This neglect of our legitimate concerns forced us to move the High Court of Karnataka in a PIL in 1997 (Arthur Pereira and ors. vs. Union of India and ors., WP No. 37681/1997). A key concern raised was that the 2nd runway in Mangalore could not meet the standards required in dealing with an emergency, particularly during landings and takeoffs – a time when air crashes are most likely to happen.
The Airports Authority of India filed an affidavit in Court dismissing all our concerns and stated this, amongst other things:
"It is submitted that as regards the apprehensions of the petitioner that the Length and width of the runway is insufficient for a plane making an emergency landing, the same is without any basis. It is respectfully submitted that all the requirements as per the ICAO recommendation will be met and that there has been no infringement of any of the recommendation and limitation therein." (Copy of this affidavit dated 14 October 1998 is accessible here.)
1 That such a crash has occurred at the Mangalore airport is unpardonable as a similar crash had occurred at this airport over a decade ago. Fortunately the plane did not tip over into the valley and all passengers, including Union Law Minister Mr. Veerappa Moily, were fortunate to escape..
2 This safety standard of ICAO also applies to air crafts when landing. It is truly sad that today's tragic air crash could be a consequence of the lack of conformance with this standard.
For further details, contact:
Environment, Social Justice and Governance Initiatives, Environment Support Group - Trust, 1572, 36th Cross, Banashankari II Stage Bangalore 560070
Tel: 91-80-26713559-61 Voice/Fax: 91-80-26713316 Email: email@example.com Web: www.esgindia.org
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Press release: Mangalore Air Crash
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