Following a request from the city airport authority,a delegation of BMC officers on Friday inspected all areas of K,H and L wards,which include Andheri,Vile Parle,Santacruz and Kurla,in and around the airport area.
The objective behind the exercise is to identify garbage dumps,slaughter houses and other such places that are directly responsible for the airports birds menace and how to track the problem,said a spokesperson for Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL),the airport operator.
Arvind Hire,Deputy Municipal Commissioner,Zone III,said,They (MIAL) wrote to us asking to discuss the issue and therefore concerned officers are visiting the areas ¿ primarily the K east and H east wards ¿ to discuss the strategy to overcome the menace.
The MIAL wrote to the BMC regarding the inspection on January 13 just two days before the US Airways flight with 155 people on-board made an emergency landing in Hudson river in New York after it lost power in both its engines reportedly due to bird hits. The pilot had,thus,saved lives of all the passengers onboard.
However,considering the slums around the Mumbai airport offer ample food for birds,aviation safety experts are asking how effective a mere inspection of these areas can be.
According to the airport operator,there were 18 bird hits last year and the Mumbai airport boasts of less than 0.8 bird hits per 10,000 aircraft movement. According to international safety standards,a permissible limit of 0.89 bird hits per 10000 aircraft movements is considered safe and at Mumbai airport,the count is less than 0.8, said the spokesperson.
Senior airport officials,on condition of anonymity,said that the operator only records an incident as a bird-hit when a pilot reports a suspected or confirmed bird hit and if a dead bird is found on the runway or within airport premises. However,sources pegged the number of bird hits significantly higher. If there is a suspected bird hit when an aircraft takes off from Mumbai,it is only confirmed by an engineer once the plane lands in Ahmedabad,the incident is recorded in Ahmedabad but it actually happened in Mumbai, said a senior airport official. But the MIAL spokesperson said that the airport operator has no jurisdiction outside the airports premises.
They are all trying to do a good job but due to our civic environment outside the airport,their work may not be good enough, said Capt Kuldip Puri of the Federation of Indian Pilots (FIP). His comments can well be attributed to the over 300 butcher shops in the vicinity of the airport boundary despite the Aircraft Act of 1934 prohibiting slaughtering of animals and disposing of filth within a radius of 10 kilometers of the Aerodrome Reference Point.