Two more proposals for construction of rooftop helipads in the suburbs of Chennai are hanging in the balance owing to lack of guidelines for such a facility in the Development Control Rules. The structures have been planned on Rajiv Gandhi Salai and Chennai-Bangalore Highway.
A few months ago, the Multi-Storied Buildings panel rejected a proposal for construction of a helipad atop the soon-to-be-opened ITC Grand Chola Hotel on Anna Salai in Guindy. The Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority recently ordered the demolition of the helipad on the terrace of the Hotel.
Most of the members of the panel that rejected the proposal said they were not able to clear it because they were not sure of the consequences of commissioning a helipad on top of the building. Some of the panel members claimed that other cities faced problems because of the permission granted for such facilities. With the city trying to grow vertical, high-end residential projects too have started to plan helipads, said CREDAI Tamil Nadu president T. Chitty Babu. Factors such as traffic congestion, growth of private helicopters and the need for evacuation during disasters are contributing towards the development, he added. The lack of guidelines has now emerged as a stumbling block for such proposals to create helipads in multi-storied buildings.
According to officials on the MSB panel, helipads are permitted after obtaining necessary permission from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Ministry of Defence and the Airports Authority of India, apart from agencies like the Fire and Rescue Services, development authorities and Pollution Control Board.
“Though the area required is small and the load for having such helipad on rooftop is not much, it is associated with fire fighting system and emergency rescue plan,” said N. Mathavan, a disaster management expert.
“The landing and take-off of a helicopter are also associated with higher ambient noise levels and would result in increase in average ambient noise levels in the vicinity. A helicopter generates 100 to 120 decibels, which is well above the permitted level of 55 decibels,” he added.
Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai and several other metropolitan cities in India have amended their DCR in spite of stiff protests from environmentalists for such helipads on rooftop, said officials of Chennai Corporation.
Chennai Corporation, CMDA and DTCP are yet to come up with specific guidelines with respect to helipad on rooftops. “Helipads can be designed structurally. But issues such as safety of surrounding buildings and other zoning requirements have to be sorted out,” said K.N. Satyanarayana, Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, IIT-Madras.
In Western countries, hospitals or health care units have such helipads on rooftop to run emergency relief operations. A few hospitals in Mumbai and Pune have such helipads on rooftop.