Mumbai

Proposal for heliport at Mumbai’s Mahalaxmi race course faces opposition

A proposal to build a heliport in the heart of the iconic Mahalaxmi race course has upset the people who run it.

The 130-year old race course is part of Mumbai's history and has been declared a heritage structure. The 226-acre ground is among the few large green spaces in this congested city. 

Authorities of the Royal Western India Turf Club which runs the race course said that they had not been involved in the planning process and that they were totally against the idea. “Having a heliport right in the centre of the race course will affect, not just the horses, but also others who use the open area. Children play in the space and adults use it to walk in the evenings. Having a heliport right there will stop all the activities of the race course,” said Vivek Jain, chairman of RWITC.

The race course was first proposed as a probable location for the heliport more than two years ago. As there is an existing helipad at Mahalaxmi Race Course, it was proposed to develop it as a full-fledged heliport for day-night operations. The idea was to use the space for landings and takeoffs of VVIPs including politicians, industrialists and government functionaries.

Recently, the Airport Authority of India submitted a feasibility report to the state government giving its go-ahead for the project. “On an average 8 to 10 helicopter movements take place per day at the existing VFR Helipad.  On certain special occasions such as festivals and marriages, the number of helicopter movements per day peaks up to 30. With the upgradation of the helipad as a full-fledged heliport, the number of helicopter movements per day is expected to increase significantly,” reads the AAI report.

Apart from the facility of quick movement, the AAI has said that the heliport would help increase revenue as well. “The Race Course Operator currently charges nearly Rs. 15,000 for each landing with 30 minutes of parking from commercial helicopters.  Now, the Maharashtra Airport Development Corporation can earn revenue in a similar manner by levying landing, parking and PSF charges from the helicopter operators,” the report reads.

“If the state government approves the plan, we will have to look into the height of neighbouring buildings and make sure they do not exceed a certain height,” said an AAI official.

However, Mr. Jain said that there has to be a discussion before the project goes any further. “There should be a committee with members of the Turf Club state government and airport officials. We need to look for other possible places,” he said.

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Printable version | Sep 19, 2020 6:37:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/proposalfor-heliport-at-mumbais-mahalaxmi-race-course-faces-opposition/article6044540.ece

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