HYDERABAD: With the third edition of India Aviation 2012 set to commence at the Begumpet Airport today, the prospect of large-scale business has erased from public memory the deaths of two Navy pilots who lost control during an acrobatic display as part of the aviation show in 2010, only to crash atop a house located in a dense colony at Bowenpally.
And while the deaths are regretted, Ramesh Kumar, owner of the building (in pic), continues to wait for compensation due to damages caused to his building. Two years and a dozen letters to politicians, civil aviation officials and bureaucrats later, he has chosen to rebuild the house using his own finances.
“I haven’t yet filed a case. But I did write a letter to people such as the then Chief Minister K Rosaiah, FICCI, Hyderabad and Delhi (organisers of the event), local MLA and others, who all promised to help me. The total damage caused was close to Rs 32 lakh. But I’m yet to receive any monetary compensation,” he rues.
Not wanting to leave his house as a crash memorial, he has undertaken repair work worth Rs 16 lakh, spending mainly on renovating the second floor and re-strengthening the entire structure. He has also preferred not to rebuild the concrete water tank, putting in place instead three plastic tanks, atop an iron grill which covers the skeletal remains of the earlier concrete tank.
But thankfully, on a more humanitarian note, new tenants have moved in, and the neighbours in the colony have forgotten the nightmarish incident. Ramesh brushed aside allegations of unauthorised construction for the delay in payment of compensation saying, “My family owns this piece of property since 1970, and we have been regularly paying taxes. From 2000-02, I renovated a portion of the earlier building and raised the height beyond the first floor. Even during that period, we paid taxes, and continue to do so. If it is unauthorised, why do the authorities collect tax from us?”
He conceded though, that he had yet to apply for permission for the second floor and penthouse, but wondered why the authorities were avoiding payment of compensation, on the grounds that the entire building was unauthorised, which wasn’t the case.Currently, the building stands on 550 sq. yards, and according to an official with the Secunderabad Cantonment Board, the maximum floor space index allowed for any building within the cantonment area is 1.5.
“Surely, the top floors of the building in question violate the required norms and mark it as unathorised. But 99 per cent of the buildings in this area are unauthorised. So we can’t take any action, other than issuing a notice, which is usually ignored.”
SCB member Ramakrishna said the board was looking to put a check on unauthorised cell towers and would soon initiate action to remove them.
His point stems from the fact that a visitor to the place can’t help but imagine the extent of damage that could have occurred on that fateful day had the plane crashed even 10 metres away. Rows of houses standing wall to wall, two small temples, a school, and half-a-dozen kirana shops, all within a radius of 50 metres from the site of accident, would have fallen victim to the crash impact.