Friday, April 28, 2017

Garbage mounds pose a risk to HAL airport

With a cesspool that is Bellandur sprawled behind the airport, and garbage mounds popping up everywhere near it, the skies over HAL Airport play host to more kites and birds than man-made machines.

The black kite that flew into the helicopter carrying Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and others on Monday was just one among more than 2,500 that are spotted on every day at the airfield.

“HAL Airport is the most affected airport when it comes to birds and bird strikes in the country,” says Wing Commander (Rtd.) S.S. Mahesh, an expert with the National Bird Control Committee, DGCA who also runs Grus Ecosciences in the city.

In comparison, the Yelahanka Air Force Base — where birds come under immense scrutiny during the biennial Aero India Show — which is surrounded by some of the city’s largest waste processing plants sees an average of around 800 black kites a day; while Kempegowda International Airport is believed to have over 340 kites crossing the premises of the airport daily.

Consequently, experts believe that the Yelahanka Air Force base sees up to 25 bird strikes annually; HAL sees over 30 bird strikes a year. This is an increasing risk for HAL, and relatively recent occurrence. In 1982, when the airport was still surrounded by verdant agricultural fields and few townships, ornithologists from the Bombay Natural History Society recorded just 251 black kites in a day. This increase — say HAL officials and birders — is primarily because of garbage being illegally dumped around the key air base, close to Bellandur Lake, and in nearby residential areas. Mr. Mahesh says more than 73 garbage dumps were spotted close to the base, while at least 26 dumpsites have come in and around the severely-polluted Bellandur lake.
28/04/17 Mohit M.Rao/The Hindu