Tuesday, 24 January 2012

MIL to deploy animal trappers at airport again

NAGPUR: On Saturday evening, Indigo's Kolkata-Nagpur-Raipur flight crushed a rabbit on the runway of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport indicating animal menace is far from over.

Though airport officials claimed no such mishap occurred, sources confirmed that inspection staff recovered the carcass after the flight took off for Raipur.

This incident occurred just after civil aviation secretary Nasim Zaidi directed city airport operator Mihan India Ltd (MIL) to ensure that all issues related to airport safety, including runway resurfacing and intrusion of stray animals in operational area, were taken care of.

MIL, which had scrapped the contract of an animal trapper, has now decided to appoint other trappers who will also guard the runway and operational area round the clock. They will also trap and relocate the animals in nearby forest areas, said Abadesh Prasad, chief operating officer of MIL. MIL has called for offers in this regard on Monday.

Since traffic at the airport has increased manifold, Prasad said that MIL is also initiating other steps to avert any untoward incident. To check movement of animals on the runway, shrubs and bushes were being removed regularly from operational areas, he said.

Last year animals had turned airport a chaotic place. On May 15, a deer was hit by a JetLite flight. Two pigs were crushed under the wheels of an Air India flight on June 22. A four-horned antelope was hit by an Air India aircraft on June 27. As many as 17 major mishaps were averted in the last five years.

TOI has already highlighted the issue and reported several times that animals like deer, monkeys, dogs and pigs frequent the airport operational area. On the same lines, stray dogs were seen welcoming passengers on the tarmac while boarding aircraft; monkeys and pigs run across the runway. These animals endanger flight safety, since they can cause major mishaps if an aircraft hits them while landing or take off.

Even chief minister Prithviraj Chavan had ordered an enquiry into the recurring mishaps and the incidents where stray animals have ventured on to the runway jeopardizing lives and causing a nuisance to aviation staff.


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