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Ground birds, let aircraft fly free

Bhubaneswar, Nov. 12: The city management group will conduct joint raids around the airport on November 21 to stop vendors from selling fish, mutton and chicken in the area.

The group formed to carry out the raids will have members from several departments including general administration, housing and urban development, public works, revenue, environment and forests. Police personnel and employees of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) will also be part of the raid team.

The group will take the help of the police during the eviction drive to ensure that these vendors do not pollute the areas near the flight path.

An AAI official said that though the civic authorities had claimed to have evicted non-vegetarian eateries, several were operating at Sundarpada, Pokhariput, Gandamunda, Jagamara, Khandagiri, Baramunda, Unit-VI and Unit-VIII. Moreover, dumping of animal wastes by traders near the NH-5 bridge at Baramunda also attracts birds such as kites.

The menace of birds hitting aircraft in Bhubaneswar has already made the authorities take notice of the safety aspects of air operations near Biju Patnaik Airport.

Yesterday’s incident at New Delhi airport, in which a city-bound Air India flight with 133 passengers on board was forced to make an emergency landing after it was hit by a bird, has once again brought into focus the problem of meat vendors near Biju Patnaik Airport.

Commissioner of the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation Sanjib Kumar Mishra told The Telegraph: “There will be joint raids in Pokhariput, Gandamunda and nearby areas on November 21 to stop shopkeepers from selling meat and fish in the open. The raids will be carried out with police assistance as on previous occasions local people have opposed the drive.”

Officials of the airports authority also pointed to a biscuit factory at Gandamunda operating from a private plot.

The plot has two tall trees, which act as nesting sites for birds. “During the raids, we found that the factory remains closed. But the trees need to be pruned as soon as possible,” Mishra said.

The Odisha Forest Development Corporation says that it would require Rs 60,000 for the pruning exercise, but it didn’t have the money.

“We have come forward to pay as it is an important issue. We are waiting for the proposal to be approved,” said commissioner Mishra.

After the Diwali holidays, city health officer Chandrika Prasad Das will conduct a survey of all areas around the airport and the flight path, so that there is no dumping of solid wastes.

Airport director Sharad Kumar said: “The recent emergence of a dump yard near Phase III of Dumduma Housing Board Colony has caused concern. According to the officials of the airports authority, the aerial distance of the site is within 2km of the airport.”

Das, however, said that at times even local councillors opposed the drive, causing embarrassment to the administration.

“This time, the raids will be conducted with adequate police force as in future the city airport will be operating international flights,” he said.