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Juhu airport woes: hoardings, drain water, puddles and birds

DGCA inspection reveals safety concerns at aerodrome that sees nearly 100 chopper movements daily.

mumbai Updated: Jan 05, 2012 01:27 IST
Soubhik Mitra
Soubhik Mitra
Hindustan Times

Commercial hoardings on the periphery of the Juhu aerodrome, which caters to approximately 100 helicopter movements every day, block the view of the pilots while landing. This is among the several concerns raised by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the country’s aviation safety regulator.

The DGCA inspection early this month was a routine procedure conducted as the airport's licence, which had expired in November, came up for renewal.

The Juhu strip is the oldest airstrip if the city, and caters to hundreds of workers flown frequently to oil rigs in the Arabian Sea as well as high profile politicians and industrialists shuttling across the state.

“We found that the hoardings were an obstacle for pilots on the landing path. It is a serious safety hazard for fliers,” said a DGCA official in Delhi.

M Yadagiri, airport director of the Juhu aerodrome, said the problem will be resolved soon. “The contract period of firms who have set up the hoardings would expire soon,” he said.

The inspection also found that a pond within the airport’s boundary often overflows during high tide, creating puddles close to the runway. Worse, basic markings prescribed by the safety regulator to guide pilots about runway demarcations were missing during the inspection.

Yadagiri said: “We have begun painting the markings. As for the pond, the Brihanmumbai Mumbai Corporation (BMC) denied us permission to fill it.”

Drainage water from the neighbourhood also flows inside the airfield. “The BMC is laying down a drainage line from the Juhu Tara road to Nehru road to stop the problem,” added Yadagiri.

Excessive bird menace was another serious safety concern raised in the DGCA report.

According to the regulator, airport operators should be equipped with devices such as sound guns and firecrackers and also employ dedicated bird chasers to shoo away birds from the approach path. “Some of birds visiting the airfield are migratory species. We are not permitted to harm them,” said Yadagiri.

The airport operator has now asked for six months to make the airfield compliant to all the requirements set by the regulator. “A budget of Rs48 crore has been sanctioned for construction of a perimeter road and elevation of the runway surface,” Yadagiri said.

First Published: Jan 05, 2012 01:26 IST