Monday, July 01, 2019

Oh fish! Catfish land on Juhu airport runway

Mumbai It rained cats and dogs in Mumbai last weekend, but at the Juhu airport the downpour was all about catfish. The runway of the busiest heliport in the country was briefly taken over by aquatic life from the lake on the premises on Saturday.

The unusual intruders-most of them catfish, some even up to 3 ft long-left the airport officials and helicopter pilots bemused. Even those who have landed in airports across the country and boasted of runway encounters with nilgai, mongoose, antelopes, snakes and dogs were left feeling like fish out of water in this new work environment.
The flippity-flop on the runway shouldn't have come as a surprise though, as the low-lying Juhu airport has a lake, a large nullah and Arabian Sea, all within half a kilometre radius. It lies like a trough and on its bank are residential colonies and S V Road at an elevation of 4-5ft. "Water from these parts pour into Juhu. It's gets flooded even in light rain. There are certain areas in Juhu airport that remain under water for most part of monsoon," said a senior helicopter pilot.
A senior official of the Airports Authority of India said: "There is a big lake on the northwest side of the runway, which is frequented by locals who fish there. In heavy rain, the airport gets inundated and when the water recedes, one finds fish and and other aquatic life left behind."
A video clip shows two uniformed men from Juhu airport's fire services clearing the runway of these 'intruders', with an airport vehicle in tow. One of them picks up a rather big catfish, holding onto to its head with his two hands, and dunks it into a plastic drum in the vehicle while collecting the 'foreign objects' from the runway and tarmac. Another clip shows catfish slithering away into the wet grass patches near the paved track.
01/07/19 Manju V/Times of India
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