Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Police Diary: Floating balloons not fun around airport, say cops

One agency has its eyes on the sky and the other has its ears to the ground, and together, the Air Traffic Control (ATC) and the Mumbai Police work to secure the perimeter of the airport.
In recent months, however, floating objects, especially balloons of all shapes and sizes, have stretched their relationship repeatedly with senior policemen pointing out that it’s impossible to chase every balloon straying into the airport area, even if it’s undeniable that any stray object in the airport is a security concern. The police admit that they register not all cases of balloons, as mainly the complaint is not strong enough since the operations at the airport may not be disturbed.
On January 19, at 4.34 pm, a police officer spotted a large white object rise from the northeast end of the Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport’s domestic terminal. He informed his superior.
“Kuthoon ale?” the senior asked. Where did the balloon come from? “Sir, Parle bajoola.” From the Vile Parle side, the reply said. “Aani ATC?” What about Air Traffic Control. “Naahi” the officer said. No complaint from the ATC. The senior pivoted back to his room. A white balloon minus any identifying marks flew over the airfield and across it, without disturbing airport operations. It was gone in less than eight minutes. “We know that everything straying into the airport is a security risk, but unless the ATC notifies us, we don’t always probe them,” said a senior Mumbai Police officer.
Balloons and Chinese lanterns across Mumbai’s skies are increasingly common and while balloon vendors at the sea-side promenades are suspected to be the culprits, the spottings at the airport have risen sharply in recent times.
02/02/16 Rohit Alok/Indian Express

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