If it had not rained on Tuesday afternoon, the Delhi airport’s chronic problem of birds posing a danger to planes while landings and take-offs may have ended.
The freak rain foiled the two-month-long preparations by authorities and NGOs to raid and shut down the illegal meat traders at Mehranpur and Dwarka adjacent to the IGI airport.
According to officials, scavenger birds are attracted by the waste meat from these generated by these shops, which were "horribly close" to the periphery of the airport.
After monitoring the meat traders for months, NGO Animal Saviour had prepared the swoop along with authorities, including the MCD.
"We arrived there at around 3 pm but there was no trading happening at that time. We figured the sudden rain must have made them wind up early. Added to that, this being Tuesday, when a majority of meat-eaters observe vegetarianism, the number of traders would have been less anyway,” said Gautam Grover, managing trustee of Animal Saviour.
Now, the NGO and the officials have decided to carry out the raid in about a month. "We will again have to do a thorough inspection of the situation and carry out the raid in some time,” said an MCD official on condition of anonymity.
Following repeated complaints from pilots about birds disturbing take-offs and landings at grave risk to passengers, a committee of the Delhi airport called Air Field Environment Committee had asked NGO Wildlife SOS to study the cause of the problem and suggest a solution.
"We faced tremendous problem because of birds especially in the rainy season. After the study, the NGO had told us that the unauthorised abattoirs adjacent to the airport were to be blamed,” said Arun Arora, associate vice-president, Delhi International Airports (Private) Limited.
Karthick Satyanarayan, head of Wildlife SOS, said: “We had found that these meat shops, almost all unlicensed, were producing a lot of biological waste around the airport. While getting attracted to these wastes, scavenger birds were coming in way of the runways.”