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Southern States - Tamil Nadu-Chennai

Encroachment menace haunts airport

By T.S. Shankar.

CHENNAI May 8. The Chennai airport, with growing national and international flight operations, is facing a danger to its air safety due to the proliferating encroachments around its periphery, including those likely to attract birds through eateries.

Large number of encroachments, especially fast-food eateries have sprung up on the GST road pavement opposite the Tirusulam railway station and bordering the airport area, the remains of the foodstuffs could attract birds, resulting in bird menace and potentially jeopardise flight operations.

The custodians of the terminal buildings -- the international airports division of the Airports Authority of India (IAD-AAI) say that they would write an official letter to the Kancheepuram Collector seeking his assistance to help evict the GST road encroachments.

``I have requested a meeting with the Collector to sort out this growing menace to help keep the airport environs garbage- free and remove such unauthorised structures, especially the eateries'', said the Chennai Airport Director, R.J.Treasuryvala, when contacted about what concrete action they contemplate to initiate.

While seeking the support of the residents of the locality, the Airport Director said it was not only an aviation related safety hazard but a community problem.

Mr.Treasuryvala said an effective garbage collection mechanism with regard to terminal building was already in place with a contractor reporting twice daily to undertake the task. The accumulated waste at the AAI residential quarters adjacent the airport complex is collected three times a week by an authorised person from the Cantonment authorities.

With the line pilots of the Indian Commercial Pilots' Association (ICPA) stoutly protesting against any form of obstruction or menace especially birds menace, a high-level airfield environment management committee, meets once in three months, with Secretary Environment and Forests as its Chairman and the Airport Director as the Convenor.

The other members are:senior official of the air traffic control department, Regional controller of air safety, Indian Airlines flight safety, Chief water analyst - public health and preventive medicine-King Institute, Guindy, State Pollution Control Board, Municipal Commissioner Pallavaram Municipality, Deputy Conservator of Forest, Indian Air Force Station, Tambaram, St.Thomas Mount, Pammal, Meenambakkam and Pozhichalur Town Panchayats, St. Thomas Mount Cantonment Board, and the Kancheepuram Collectorate.

This high-powered committee, has been entrusted with the task of monitoring to make at least the 10-km radius of the airport environs -- a garbage free one, besides ensuring removal of hoardings, stopping garbage dumping, and eviction of unauthorised sales points, besides closure of open slaughter-houses.

But, going by the mushrooming growth of encroachments especially near the Anna International Terminal and the Kamaraj Domestic Terminal and on the entire GST road stretch from the deserted old Meenambakkam airport complex, airport sources feel that these Committees, though vested with adequate powers to remove the encroachments, seem to be only a silent spectator. Even the bus shelter at the airport has been ``hijacked'' by the encroachers. The poor lighting level on the airport stretch has also rendered it an accident-prone zone on GST Road.

As many as 13 foreign carriers are operating out of the AIT, and with several existing European carriers wanting to increase its operations, it is high time that the State and Central Government authorities concerned put their minds together to check this menace and improve safety by removing the encroachments, say airport officials.

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