Jakkur Flying School runway extension unsafe, say residents

The controversy over the BBMP's imminent acquisition of three acres of the Government Flying Training School land at Jakkur for a new road to GKVK Layout just got deeper. Surrounding communities are opposed to a move to extend the runway by 175 metres to give a new lease of life to the flying school.

Articulating the communities' stand, a spokesperson for the residents' associations of GKVK Layout and Shobha Suburbia, says, "The runway extension is being proposed to somehow keep the airport alive with scant regard for the safety of the communities surrounding the flying school and with utter disregard for the directives of the honorable courts."

Once extended, the runway will touch the compound of the neighbouring property located to the west of the flying school. "The surrounding communities had never dreamt that aircraft would one day take off a few feet away from their homes. The extended runway will adversely affect the flight safety and safety to life and property below," says a local resident, a senior commander with a domestic carrier with more 13,000 hrs of flying experience.

The integrity of the structures would also be in question with sound and vibrations caused by the flights operating precariously close by. Besides, he is convinced that the runway extension will not meet the safety requirements laid down by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

Spread across 225 acres, the Flying School land has been targeted for development projects in the past. The School officials feel the elevated metro line will render nearly half of the runway unusable. The area residents agree this is the case, but extending the runway is not going to serve the intended purpose with regard to flight safety, they say.

The construction of the elevated Expressway on the western side of the Flying School had reduced the effective length of the runway from 854 metres to 423 metres. But the Airbase in Yelahanka disallowed the elevated Expressway in its flight path. "The government itself is the primary culprit in curtailing the safe operations of the airport," says the commander.

Road, court verdict

The government has contended that the new road is an alternative for an existing kuccha road that will be subsumed into the runway. The residents draw attention to a court order in April 2016, directing the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) to acquire the land and form the CDP road.

The kuccha CDP road has been in existence for over a century. "The road has been blocked by the landowners because BDA has not given compensation to them as per the court order. This decree was passed after the court obtained a written undertaking from the BDA and the landowners regarding road formation," says a resident, preferring anonymity.

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