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Runway flock disrupts flights

A flock of birds sitting on the secondary runway disrupted flights at the airport on Wednesday afternoon when the primary runway was closed for routine maintenance.

“Flights could not take off or land between 3.50pm and 4.05pm because a large flock of birds was sitting on the secondary runway and hovering around it. The birds had gathered in the area because grass was being cut in the vicinity,” said an airport official. When grass is trimmed, a lot of worms and insects emerge from the ground, attracting birds that feed on them.

Officials said trimming operations were necessary since grass grew quickly in monsoon.

The flock that Wednesday’s operation attracted was unusually large, said several officials.

Four Calcutta-bound flights could not land and had to hover in the air for 15 minutes while two flights about to take off had to be wait in the tarmac till the birds could be chased away.

A vehicle was driven down the secondary runway and firecrackers burst to remove the birds.

Airport officials said it was too risky to attempt to land or take-off with birds around.

“If there is a bird hit, the engine of the plane could get damaged,” said an official.

Bird hits are a constant threat at the city airport because feathered species feed on scrap generated at the markets that surround the premises.

The canteen run by the airport authorities close to the runway does not help either as birds gather there for leftovers. “We have requested the local civic body a number of times to move the markets some distance away but to no avail,” said an airport official.

Student protest: Nearly 150 students at Barasat State University demonstrated on the campus on Wednesday against alleged irregularities in the university administration. They later submitted a 20-point memorandum to the vice-chancellor, Kaushik Gupta.