NAGPUR: Fireworks may cause noise and air pollution during Diwali but at city airport they do a service. Faced with incidents of animals straying on runways and increased bird activity in the skies, airport authorities resorted to fire crackers like 'sutli bombs' and rockets to make landings and take offs safer.
To check animal menace Mihan India Limited (MIL) officials have closed all breaches in the compound wall and put grills at exit points for drains. They have also been spending a good amount on fireworks every month, sources informed.
They said, "After Diwali, sound of crackers may be off city streets. But daily fireworks show is on at airport." Nearby residents confirmed seeing fireworks go on minutes before a flight lands or takes off. Apparently, this scares away ground animals as well as birds from the area, both of which are aviation hazards.
A senior MIL official said pilots had to delay take offs or abort landings 31 times after seeing animals on the runway since 2007. In 17 cases, aircraft actually hit animals like deer, wild boar and pigs though no accident happened. Pilots also reported over 28 bird-hits in the last three years, seven of them between Jan 1 and July 31 this year. This prompted chief minister Prithviraj Chavan to order Airport Environmental Committee (AEC) to probe into the recurring incidents.
Now efforts, that include use of crackers, have brought the number to nil in last four months (August to November). Besides firecrackers, airport authorities also use 12 zon guns- a LPG-operated device- that generates a loud noise at regular intervals. Eight guns were installed by airport authorities and four by Air Force to frighten animals and birds away from the runway and operational area.
But these sophisticated devices were not so effective. "Where everything failed, the traditional way of firecrackers has worked wonders. Regular coordination with Nagpur Municipal Corporation also helped us clean up the fish market and meat shops from Khamla and Sonegaon areas close to the airport thus reducing bird activity," Abadesh Prasad, MIL chief operating officer informed.
"Six people are deployed on the 3200-metre main runway in each shift. They position the rockets to target birds flying over the runway and light 'sutli bombs' if animals are spotted close to runway. "We burst over 100 crackers including bombs and rockets daily," said Prasad.