If your flight into Mumbai circles over the airport for a rather long while, you can perhaps blame it on the dogs.
Stray mongrels on the runways are sending operations into a tizzy at the country’s busiest international and domestic terminals.
While there are about 25 people to chase away birds and cattle from the airport compound, there is nobody to take over the task after 8 pm. With almost 50 domestic flights landing between 6 pm and 10 pm, the evening peak period faces the dog menace.
“Since mid-December, we have appointed a contractor to catch dogs. Almost 70 dogs have been caught and, after keeping them in a makeshift kennel, they were handed over to the civic body,” said a spokesperson of the Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL). “We are also locking access points so that the dogs cannot enter the airport.”
“Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and MIAL had mutually agreed that MIAL would catch the dogs and hand them over to us,” said Jairaj Thanekar, BMC executive health officer. “Since the airfield is a sensitive zone, accessing it with our vehicles is a problem.”
Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International had roped in a non-governmental organisation Wildlife SOS when they had faced a similar problem in 2006. Airports in the US too have experienced similar problems when elks and pumas were found within their premises.
Sources in BMC said that the stray dogs at the airport could be attributed to the large slum population, and consequent waste food, and about 250 meat shops in the vicinity.