ISLAMABAD, Oct 22: A National Logistics Cell`s request to the Civil Aviation Authority seeking permission to install its machinery close to the airfield of Benazir Bhutto International Airport for starting work on the Rs1.2 billion Chandni Chowk flyover remains in limbo since the authority has termed it `hazardous` fearing it may create smog for the aircraft approaching the runway; Dawn learnt on Saturday.
The Rs1.2 billion project has already been under the scrutiny of the Ministry of Defence and its attached departments – CAA and the Pakistan Air Force – because of the flyover`s height.
According to information shared with Dawn; the NLC, which has been awarded the contract for the construction of the flyover, has written a letter to the CAA saying: “The only open space, available in the area close to the development site, is required to be used by the NLC for installation of a batching plant and other construction activities.”
The NLC sought an initial approval for four months for setting up of the machinery at the open air space.
A senior aviation official close to the development while talking to this reporter said: “A batching plant is a very dusty and heavily trafficked operation and obviously it will be dangerous for the passenger and defence aircraft to make a smooth landing at the airport because visibility may become a concern for the pilots.”
The official said NLC had already installed heavy construction machinery at the open space near the airport runway without getting approval from the aviation authority.
“The CAA has not given any approval to the NLC for using the open space close to the Benazir Bhutto International Airport`s runway because it is against the national airfield clearance policy and International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)`s rules.”
About the airfield clearance policy, the CAA`s website says: “In Pakistan, the control of obstacles around the airport is governed under Rule-68 of Civil Aviation Rules-1994 (Safeguarding at Aerodromes.)”
It requires restricted height of 500 feet within a radius of 15 km from the airport.
As such construction of high-rise buildings, structures and erection of antennas, poles, masts, chimneys within above mentioned areas requires height clearance from the CAA.”
The ICAO has also given guidelines and powers to countries for controlling the obstacles close to airfields, saying states may also establish their own legislation according to their requirements for the international airports.
“The matter is likely to be taken up by the Ministry of Defence with the Punjab government and the NLC that their construction machinery and batching plant is a concern for the flight safety operations,” added the official.
The official said in this regard letters were also written to the NLC to respond under which rules they had established the machinery close to the airfield.
When contacted, Commissioner Rawalpindi division Zahid Saeed told Dawn: “This is cement batching plant where only concrete is used for development operations and would not create any smog.” The batching plant, he said, was not bitumen.
The commissioner insisted that the matter had already been resolved after they discussed the issue with the CAA officials during three to four meetings specifically held on the issue.
“The concern is more related to an agreement regarding four months between the CAA and the NLC. The aviation authority wanted to sign an agreement as the open space is used by the NLC for its site office (located close to the runway),” he explained.
He said the Punjab government was hopeful that matters related to the flyover would be resolved. He also said the height of the flyover was not more than the buildings in its surrounding.