It's a bird, it's a plane... BMC seeks to prevent a meeting of the twain

To prevent bird hits and dogs straying onto the runway, the civic body plans to send notices to meat shops in a 10-km radius of the airport; it will ask them to dump the waste in closed garbage bins and ensure cleanliness, or lose their licences

Come 2015, the BMC plans to ask owners of shops in the vicinity of the airport to clean up their act — literally — or down their shutters for good.

Clear and present danger: MIAL has said in its petition that slaughtering animals within  a 10-km radius of the runway poses a serious and immediate safety threat to flight operations, as well as to passengers. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi

After the Bombay High Court directed the BMC to take action against these shops to prevent bird-hit cases and dogs straying onto the runaway, the civic body plans to revoke the licences of meat shops if they are found dumping leftovers in the open and not keeping their premises clean. It is mandatory for all meat shops to dump the leftovers only in closed dustbins and maintain cleanliness. This helps keep birds and stray dogs away.

From next month, the BMC will start issuing notices to this effect to shops in ten wards (H-East, H-West, K-East, K-West, N, L, M-East, M-West, and T) which include parts of Santacruz, Andheri, Ghatkopar, Kurla, Chembur, Govandi and Mulund.

According to data available with the BMC, there are more than 2,700 mutton and chicken shops operational in a 10-km radius of the airport and a petition by the Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) in the Bombay High Court has pleaded for these shops to be closed as bird hits and stray dogs on the runway could cause a major accident.

MIAL has said that there 18 confirmed and 18 suspected bird hits in 2013 and eight confirmed and 10 suspected hits between January and May 2014. There have also been more than 50 instances of stray dogs being caught within the airport premises this year.

“After the court’s direction, we have held several meetings with the concerned authorities to resolve the issue. Now, we have decided to issue notices to all the shops asking them to dump waste only in closed garbage bins and also clean the premises daily so that birds and stray dogs don’t get attracted. Nearly 250 illegal shops are also operational in a radius of 10 km from the airport,” said a senior official from the BMC’s market department.

Deputy Superintendent of Markets Dr Avinash Patil said, “After sending the notices, our inspectors will conduct random inspections and if shop owners are found violating the norms, their licences will be revoked. The notices are ready and we will start sending them next month. We will take all necessary steps to avoid bird-hit cases.”

The corporation said it may also ask MIAL to take action against shops, which it can do under Section 91 (No slaughtering allowed near airport runway) of the Aircraft Act. Deputy Municipal Commissioner Prakash Patil said, “We will hand over the list of illegal meat shops to MIAL in some time and ask them to take action.”

Serious threat

MIAL’s petition before the HC says: Slaughtering animals and depositing rubbish, filth and other polluted material within a 10-km radius of the runway poses a serious and immediate safety threat to flight operations, as well as to passengers. This attracts high-flying birds such as vultures, eagles and hawks, increasing the possibility of bird hits and the possibility of a crash.

Manpower troubles
While the BMC claims that it will conduct random inspections, how it will manage to do so remains to be seen as 70 per cent of the posts of inspectors are  vacant. There are 210 sanctioned posts, out of which only 61 are filled and 149 are vacant.

Crunching the numbers
There are 624 private shops selling mutton, chicken, beef and pork in a 10-km radius of the airport.

The BMC runs 2,117 meat shops in the same radius

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