Coming soon, helipads on 5 landfills to ferry patients

Coming soon, helipads on 5 landfills to ferry patients

To ferry patients seeking immediate medical attention to the city, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is going beyond the city limits. Now, the civic body has identified five landfills in the outskirts to construct helipads.

BBMP is to hold consultations with HAL and other government authorities over the technical feasibility of setting up the helipads. Former mayor R Sampath Raj had earlier proposed the helipads to provide air ambulance services; also to enable easy movement of dignitaries and VIPs in the city. This can help avoid traffic jams as well.

The civic body has identified Bagalur, Bellahalli, Bingipura, Mallasandra near Dasarahalli, and an old landfill near the Indian Institute of Management, Bengaluru (IIM-B) for the initiative. The civic body, with no prior experience in aviation, is considering a public-private partnership for the proposed helipads.

In the 2018-19 BBMP budget, Rs 5 crore has been earmarked for the project’s first phase. “The BBMP will set up the helipads in the reclaimed plots, which are approximately one acre each,” Sarfaraz Khan, joint commissioner, health and solid waste management told DH.

“We have identified the land. Now, we will have to consult HAL, aviation authorities, and agencies concerned, as we are not technically competent on helipads,” he added.

When asked why landfills, Sarfaraz Khan explained:  “This is a new concept -- setting up helipads on reclaimed land. As the city does not have any open spaces left we have to construct on landfills which we are soil-capping, packing the quarries with soil and rock.”

‘Helipads of no use’

The BBMP’s plan to build helipads in the city’s outskirts is of no use to the residents, who have to fly for a health emergency, says an expert. “There are already around 300 helipads on the high rises in the city. I don’t understand why BBMP is mulling helipads in the outskirts now,” said M N Srihari, traffic expert and former advisor to the state government on matters of traffic and infrastructure.

“There are many helipads; they are not used due to a lack of helicopters. BBMP doesn’t have any basic understanding of the construction of helipads. If they construct helipads on landfills, land may cave in,” he added.

Rejecting the expert view, Sarfaraz Khan said: “The point is, as the city grows there will be more congestion, hence, helipads will be useful in the future to avoid traffic congestion during emergencies.”