National Green Tribunal Dt 20th Dec 2016

Airlines to pay fine if planes drop human waste during flight”

The CPCB, after analysing the samples taken from the petitioner’s house had stated that, ‘it was indeed excreta, but its source is not known’. (Reuters)

Airlines will be penalised if they empty toilet tanks during flight, the green panel ordered on Tuesday.

National Green Tribunal (NGT) directed the country’s aviation regulator – Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) – to issue instructions to all airlines, whose planes are involved, to pay Rs 50,000 as environmental compensation.

The NGT bench chaired by Swatanter Kumar passed a slew of directions to be followed by airlines while hearing a plea of a retired army officer, who claimed the terrace of his house in south Delhi’s Vasant Enclave is being repeatedly spattered with excreta falling from aeroplanes.

“DGCA shall also issue directions that aircraft on landing shall be subjected to surprise inspection to see that human waste tanks are not empty. If any aircraft is found to be violating such circular or (their) tanks are found empty on landing, they shall be subjected to environment compensation of Rs 50,000 per default,” the bench said.

The direction came on the plea of Lt Gen (Retd) Satwant Singh Dahiya who had sought action against airlines and levy of hefty fines on them for endangering the health of residents, terming their act as violation of the ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’.

“For over a week now, we found that walls and floors of our terrace are splattered with large patches of excreta dumped by aircraft flying in front of Palam airport at night. The last time it happened early in October, we had to spend Rs 50,000 to get the exterior painted,” Dahiya had stated in his plea.

Earlier, the green panel had asked the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), to send a senior environmental engineer to inspect the petitioner’s house and if human excreta was found on its walls, sample should be collected for analysis and the report placed before the tribunal.

The CPCB, after analysing the samples taken from the petitioner’s house had stated that, ‘it was indeed excreta, but its source is not known’.While issuing directions, the green panel expressed surprise over the CPCB report, saying, “We are surprised to note the stand of CPCB to the extent of coliform and the kind of splashes created on the houses of the petitioner as well as others clearly demonstrate that it was human excreta.”

Earlier the NGT had slapped a fine of Rs 5,000 on the environment ministry and the ministry of civil aviation for failing to file inspection report on the plea.

During the hearing, the DGCA told the bench it will investigate the matter.

In his petition, Vasant Enclave resident Dahiya had sought creation of a 24-hour helpline for immediate reporting of such incidents and a monitoring mechanism to check that no aircraft drops “human soil or excreta” while landing.

The Ministry had opposed the argument and said plane toilets stored the waste in special tanks which are normally disposed of by ground crews once the plane lands. However, aviation officials acknowledge that lavatory leaks can occur in the air at times.

The green panel added that the amount collected as fine from airlines shall be used for environment protection and a quarterly report shall also be submitted by DGCA before it.

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