Staff Reporter

  • INS Garuda is standby airport for VVIP arrivals
  • Coast Guard plane suffered bird hit early this month

    KOCHI: The Southern Naval Command will not extend the deadline of October 30 set for the Corporation of Cochin to stop dumping waste in Wellingdon Island.

    The Chief of Staff of the Command, Rear Admiral Rajender Singh, said that the Navy could not risk frequent bird hits on aircraft which land and take off from INS Garuda, the Naval Airport. "The airport will in all likelihood be a standby one for the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport, when VVIPs like Prime Minister visit the State capital. The new Defence Minister A.K. Antony might visit Kochi. We cannot afford a bird hit on VVIP aircraft," he said.

    With the main runway under repair, the second one is being used by Naval and Coast Guard planes. The garbage-dumping site of the Corporation is located within the approach funnel of the runway, and this puts aircraft at the risk of bird hits, which may cause major mishaps.

    "We were very accommodative of the city's garbage-disposal needs and kept on extending the deadline. We cannot extend the deadline any longer," said Rear Admiral Singh. A major disaster had been averted earlier this month when a Dornier aircraft of the Coast Guard suffered a bird hit in the vicinity of INS Garuda.

    The skill and experience of the pilot helped the aircraft, which was on an operational sortie, return safely.

    Considering the seriousness of the problem, the Navy had reminded the Corporation to find another site for dumping garbage, which caused the menace of birds near the air station, before October-end.