Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Aero India contractor putting pilots, planes, flyers in harm’s way

It’s not been a good week for aviation in Bengaluru. A fortnight short of the its most-awaited air show, the city has seen two air accidents in less than five days. On Friday, January 31, two pilots were killed in Bengaluru, after they ejected from a Mirage 2000 fighter plane when it was taking off at the HAL airport.
Four days later, on Tuesday, an Army chopper, Advance Light helicopter (ALH) Rudra, made an emergency landing near Kaggalipura.
Even as the state puts its chin up and prepares to welcome the who’s who from the aerospace and defence sectors from all over the globe to the 12th edition of the Aero India, there’s cause for concern.
While on the one hand aerospace companies will be setting up their chalets with five-star hospitality, to give their A-list invitees and guests ringside seats to the air show, hundreds of contract labourers have been brought in from different parts of the country to set up the infrastructure for the five-day extravaganza, and lodged in makeshift sheds.
When Bangalore Mirror visited the area, a few kilometres away from the Aero India venue at Air Force Station Yelahanka, besides the makeshift sheds, cooking utensils could be seen left out in the open. Leftover food lay scattered all over. Empty cartons and bottles of cheap liquor were thrown all round.
The makeshift tents and food strewn carelessly could pose a threat to the lethal metal birds, business jets and modern military equipment which will soar in the skies.
“These temporary sheds are a danger to the aircraft as the food is thrown all over and it can attract birds. Being within the flying zone and with aircraft performing aerial displays, it poses a huge threat,” said an IAF source.
It’s had to estimate how many labourers have been put up in the makeshift sheds at Kodagalahatti village near Hunasamaranahalli. One source said they could be around 800 people living here.
The makeshift sheds lack basic amenities with the labourers forced to sleep on carpet. Though there is an indoor kitchen, food for the labourers is being cooked in the open.
It’s a norm that during all editions of the airshow, meat shops are shut down. Restaurants in the vicinity of Yelahanka Air base are not allowed to serve meat once the aircraft start arriving for the airshow. This is to prevent carrion eaters like hawks, vultures and crows from being drawn to the spot and coming in the way of aircraft.
06/02/19 Hemanth CS/Bangalore Mirror