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Bulldozer aims at shops and birds

Bhubaneswar, Nov. 21: Thirty shops were demolished today in a joint raid by state government agencies in a move to stop the selling of meat and fish in the open in Pokhariput.

The shops and the waste they threw away were attracting birds near the city airport, a hazard for flights landing and taking off.

The enforcement officials of the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) took the lead during the raid and demolition work in the area that falls in ward No. 30 in the presence of officials of the Bhubaneswar Development Authority, Cuttack-Bhubaneswar police and the general administration department. The raid started around 12.30pm and continued for an hour.

Corporation enforcement officer Sumita Behera said: “The demolition was done following a report given by the Airports Authority of India (AAI). AAI safety experts felt that body parts of animals and fish thrown outside the shops attracted birds, mainly carnivores. The birds circling for food near the airport runway were a hazard for flights, as they could hit them.”

AAI officials said that in 2009 there were six cases of birds hitting flights near the airport, while in 2010 there were 16, in 2011, 22, and eight cases have been reported till date this year.

The survey conducted by the AAI in July found that a slurry pond close to a biscuit factory near the airport boundary at Gandamunda, a garbage dump near Palaspalli and open ponds left by laterite quarry in Kargil slum were also attracting the birds.

Birds also use the tall trees near the airport boundary wall to build nests.

Five slums around it attract carrion eaters (scavengers) as well.

State agencies, however, acted swiftly and the biscuit factory was closed down.

“We have already taken steps to trim the trees around the airport boundary, especially near the closed biscuit factory at Gandamunda,” said a corporation official.

Another senior corporation official said open shops selling meat and fish in Pokhariput fell within the “funnel zone” of the runway and for technical reasons they should be removed from the zone.

The decision was taken after a September 21 meeting under the chairmanship of the chief secretary.

According to AAI rules, meat or fish should not be sold in the open within a radius of 10km of the runway, but as it is not practically possible to keep tabs on such a large area, at least 3km was to be kept free from any such shops.

The civic officials also pointed to the long grass within the airport area as one of the major causes for birds like kites hovering overhead, as they hunt for rodents.

“Jackals, dogs and rodents live here because of the tall grass. We have found that labourers are engaged to cut the grass. It is high time the AAI authorities started using mechanical means to do the job. Solid waste management inside the airport area should also be checked properly by an independent agency, as food materials thrown away carelessly can also attract the birds,” said another civic official.

Airport officials, meanwhile, have taken the help of the scientists of the Nandankanan zoo to conduct a survey near the airport to find out about the types of birds that frequent the airport and its surroundings.