Thursday, August 05, 2010

CITY HELIPADS UP TO BEAT TRAFFIC

CITY HELIPADS UP TO BEAT TRAFFIC
30 NoCs in last 12 months alone; helipads to be mandatory in high-rises above 20 floors
S Kushala bmfeedback@indiatimes.com



Thirty high-rise buildings across the city, including 10 residential towers, have been given clearance to construct helipads for commercial and personal use over the last 12 months alone.
With traffic jams in Bangalore a constant irritant, the state government is exploring the aerial route as a serious alternative, and is on the verge of making it mandatory for all new buildings higher than 18-20 floors to have helipads on their roofs.
"Bangalore is growing so fast, and considering its traffic situation, we have decided to implement this regulation that already exists in the National Building Code (NBC),” Basavaraj Hampagol, deputy director (technical) of the fire department, told Bangalore Mirror on Tuesday.
The fire department gives clearance for construction of all high-rises that have followed fire-safety norms. “We are insisting that any building above 60 metres must have a helipad. Otherwise, a No-objection Certificate will not be issued. This will apply to residential apartments too,” Hampagol said.
There is a dichotomy, however, with Vijay Mallya's office building in UB City not allowed to use a helipad built on its roof more than two years ago due to complaints about noise pollution from residents in the neighbourhood. So while getting permission to construct a helipad is now easy, several other clearances are needed for it to actually become operational QUICK EVACUATION
Apart from a way to beat the traffic, these helipads are also being seen as an important safety tool because they facilitate quick evacuation in case buildings catch fire.
“A helipad on the terrace does not need additional structural stability or reinforcements,” builder Dayananda Pai said. “Buildings with helipad may cost only Rs 50 per sqt more than those without it.”
B M Tirakana Goudar, additional director of the BBMP's town-planning department, said that while there was no provision in the bylaws for construction of helipads on private buildings, all such requests were being sanctioned based on the advice of the Fire Force Department and the Airports Authority of India (AAI).
“Meanwhile, the building bylaws are getting revised and in two to three months a new provision for helipads in high-rises introduced. We’re in consultation with the departments concerned on framing proper guidelines on helipads,” Goudar said.
Last year, 116 high-rise buildings were approved by the BBMP’s town planning department.
In BBMP parlance, ‘high-rise’ is a building with a height of at least 15 metres (ground plus four), though the Bangalore Development Authority's revised zonal regulations has increased the threshold to 24 metres (ground plus eight).

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