As deadline looms, meat shops in Mumbai at risk of being grounded by bird hits

Mar 15, 2016, 11:00 IST | Tanvi Deshpande

Nearly 1,000 meat traders in the city are facing a peculiar problem — their business could be grounded because of bird-hits at the Mumbai airport. That is, unless they can get a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the civil aviation authorities by the end of the month.

Parag Phadnis has already applied for the NOC but didn’t find the DGCA’s response reassuring. Pic/Satej Shinde
Parag Phadnis has already applied for the NOC but didn’t find the DGCA’s response reassuring. Pic/Satej Shinde

In a significant threat to flight safety, several birds have collided into aircraft around the airport, so last month, the Bombay High Court asked the BMC to ensure no garbage is dumped near Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport to reduce food sources for birds. Since the birds are particularly attracted to meat, the focus was turned on the 1,000 meat shops, cold storages and butcher shops within a 10-km radius of the airport.

So the BMC issued a circular in February stating that licences of these shops would be renewed only if they obtained an NOC from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). The renewal of licences will begin from March 31, and with just a fortnight to go, the owners are not sure the DGCA will deliver on the NOC in time.

The new rule that applies to 17 out of 24 wards, including wards between Dadar and Dahisar and between Dadar and Mulund. What has confused the shopkeepers further is that the address on the BMC letter is the DGCA’s, but the instructions are to apply to the Airports Authority of India (AAI). They have sent their applications to the DGCA.

Parag Phadnis, owner of the Eat Well Cold Storage in Mulund, got a letter dated February 2. His shop is 41 years old and this is the first time he has got a letter from BMC. “My shop has been here for decades, why a letter now? When I went to submit my application, the DGCA officers told me that they were already flooded with 350 applications. They could not tell me when the NOC will be issued since they were forwarding all letters to New Delhi,” he said, adding, “If the NOC doesn’t come in time, BMC rules say that the owner will be fined 25%.”

Another cold storage owner from Vile Parle, Abhay Girap, has not received the BMC letter yet, but is worried it might turn up late. “What if I get a letter towards the end of the month? Then I will definitely not get it on time. I have all licences in place. This is the first time such a demand has been made.”

On the other hand, Farooq Shaikh, a mutton shop owner in Mulund Colony said he got the BMC letter on March 2. “It seems the letter is just a formality that the BMC wants to complete. Now the DGCA should give the NOC.”

BMC speak
Assistant municipal commissioner (Markets) Sanjay Kurhade said, “The objective is to make sure there is no waste disposal in public, as it attracts birds which may lead to bird hits. We have not issued a notice but a letter notifying people to get the NOC. We are pursuing this matter closely with DGCA. In case the NOCs are not issued by March 31, we might give an extension. Shop owners will not be made to suffer.” When asked why restaurants had not been issued the same instructions, he said it was not his department. He also clarified that the DGCA was the correct authority to send the applications to.

DGCA says
A senior DGCA official said, “BMC doesn’t know how to go about things. They are unaware of what is a central matter and what is a state issue. They are not aware of the rules, which is leading to this chaos.”

— Input by Neha LM Tripathi

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