Navi Mumbai airport: 'Air safety department in dark'

Air safety dept in ‘dark’ about bird-hit threats to Navi Mumbai airport, say environmentalists

Environmentalists have been raising voices against the burial of wetlands and destruction of landing sites of thousands of migratory birds

Gaadhi river diversion as part of Navi Mumbai Airport work. Credit: NatConnect

The Directorate of Air Safety has been kept in the ‘dark’ over the concerns of bird-hit threats to flights at the upcoming Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIA), environmentalists said quoting an RTI response.

Environmentalists have been raising voices against the burial of wetlands and destruction of landing sites of thousands of migratory birds stating that this could increase bird-hit gangers to the NMIA flights.

The CIDCO targets to launch the first phase of the Rs 16,000 crore Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIA) within the next two years.

In this context, environment-focused NGO NatConnect Foundation filed an application with the DGCA under the Right To Information (RTI) Act seeking information on the risk mitigation measures against the possible bird-hits at NMIA.

NatConnect Director B N Kumar said: “We sought to know the process or protocol of safety measures that DGCA takes before giving clearance to any national or international airport, the studies done by the DGCA or IAAI on the possible bird hit dangers to flights at the upcoming Navi Mumbai International Airport, the Environment Assessment done for the Navi Mumbai International Airport and the mitigation steps planned to ensure safety of flights, passengers and crews in view of the concerns of bird hit threats.”

The application has been referred to different Public Information Officers (PIO) and one of them has responded: “The information sought is not available with the Directorate of Air Safety”.

“This is absolutely shocking. That such an important department does not have the key information. This shows that the DGCA has been kept in the dark about the important developments,” Kumar said.

It may be recalled, BNHS and several environmentalists have been writing to the Maharashtra Government asking it to stop the destruction of the wetlands in Uran and other parts of Navi Mumbai.

The then BNHS director Deepak Apte said in his letters to former and present CMs that the three major roosting sites in the vicinity of NMIA which provide safe refuge to the birds are being filled by NMSEZ. Though birds prefer wetlands, in the absence of safe places, they could flock to high ground airport zones which could provide them safe refuge.

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