Dumps near airport a bird-hit threat to flights

Illegal meat and fish stalls and five garbage dumps in the vicinity of Thiruvananthapuram international airport are posing a safety hazard to the aircraft landing and taking off from there.

Six bird strikes occurred at the airport last year. Till July this year, three bird strikes were reported, forcing the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to be on the guard against these threats to flight safety.

The Airfield Environment Management Committee (AEMC) with the Secretary, Transport, as the chairman, and the Airport Director as convener, has found that open meat and fish stalls at Sulaiman Street, Ponnara Bridge Road, All Saints College area, Sanghumughom beach, Muttathara, and Kochuveli station road are safety hazards for aircraft as they increase avian activity.

With the city Corporation yet to find a permanent solution to the garbage crisis, the open garbage dump at Bangladesh colony playground, Ponnara bridge, behind Bhima Masjid, Vallakadavu, and Cheriyathura are fertile grounds for birds.

The illegal stalls and garbage dumps were noticed during an inspection carried out by the AEMC, which is responsible for identifying places which attract birds and for implementing remedial measures. Its observations were presented at a recent meeting.

Over the years, the AAI had been urging the city Corporation to check illegal dumping of garbage in the three-km buffer zone and to close down illegal fish and meat stalls within a 10-km radius of the airport. But, the pleas remained unheeded. New fish stalls are mushrooming in places such as Eenchakkal and the illegal dumping of garbage continues along the NH bypass corridor.

‘Bird-scarers’

As part of an SPO (standard operating procedure) worked out to deal with the problem, the AAI has deployed ‘bird-scarers’ equipped with crackers along the perimeter wall of the airport to scare away birds from the runway when the aircraft land and take off. Spraying of insecticides, installing pigeon-proof hangars for the terminal buildings, proper collection and disposal of garbage, and regular inspection of the operational area are some of the other steps taken by the AAI inside the airport to keep birds at bay.

Airport Director V.N. Chandran told The Hindu that an 800-sq.m. market shelter had been mooted as part of the AAI’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative. The Corporation has given approval for the work in 21 cents near the gates of AAI property and CISF barracks at Perunelli junction near Muttathara.