Airlines to pay Rs 50,000 for emptying excreta mid-air

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NEW DELHI: The National Green Tribunal(NGT) passed a slew of directions on Tuesday to deter airlines from emptying their toilet tanks midair, slapping a fine of Rs 50,000 on any airline found to be violating the directions.

The tribunal has directed aviation regulatorDGCA to issue circulars to all airlines to ensure they do not release waste from waste tanks while landing or mid-flight, with Rs 50,000 to be paid as environmental compensation by the violators. “DGCA shall also issue directions that aircraft on landing shall be subjected to surprise inspection to see that human waste tanks are not empty,” a bench led by NGT head Swatanter Kumar said. 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,” a bench headed by NGT chairperson Swatanter Kumar said.

The directions come after the NGT was listening to a plea of retired army officer Lt Gen Satwant Singh Dahiya alleging dumping of human excreta by airlines over residential areas near IGI airport. NGT termed the act a violation of ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ and said hefty fines were required to deter airlines. Normally, human waste in the tanks is disposed of by ground handling personnel once the plane lands, but there have been cases of lavatory leaks.

The tribunal said that on analysing the samples from the petitioner’s house, it could be ascertained that it was excreta but its source could not be known. “We are surprised to note the stand of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to the extent of coliform and the kind of splashes created on the houses of the petitioner as well as others clearly demostrate that it was human excreta,” the bench said.

It said the amount collected will be deposited with CPCB to be used for environment protection and directed DGCA to submit a quarterly report to the CPCB. DGCA was also asked to set up a helpline for such complaints.