The green court of India passed multiple directions on Tuesday to stop airlines from emptying their toilet tanks midair. One of those was a fine of Rs. 50,000 on any airline that violates the directive.
A former senior armyman had moved the National Green Tribunal in October against airlines for emptying their toilets near the IGI airport in Delhi. Lt Gen (Retd) Satwant Singh Dahiya had sought criminal proceedings after he found human excreta on the walls of his South Delhi house. The NGT investigated the matter and gave the directives on Tuesday.
Aviation regulator DGCA was directed to issue circulars to all airlines to ensure they do not release waste from waste tanks while landing or mid-flight. They will be liable to Rs 50,000 as environmental compensation if they violate the law.
"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," Kumar said.
Airlines have reportedly been emptying their waste tanks over residential areas close to the IGI airport.
Dahiya had said in October that this risks the health of residents and is a violation of the "Swachh Bharat Abhiyan." While the NGT concurred and said hefty fines were required to deter airlines, a Rs. 50,000 fine for airlines seems hardly hefty.
Waste on airlines are supposed to be disposed off by ground handling personnel once the plane lands. However, due to leaks there have been cases where human excreta landed on people's houses.
In the Aamkhoh village in Sagar district of Madhya Pradesh, a woman was injured after a huge block of frozen human excreta fell on her after smashing her roof. She sustained a shoulder injury.
"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 demonstrate that it was human excreta," the bench said after analysing samples from Dahiya's house.
The fine collected from airlines will be given to CPCB for environment protection, the court said. It also directed the DGCA to submit a quarterly report to the CPCB. The aviation regulator has been told to set up a helpline for such complaints. However, the court did not say if the people who suffered from airlines dumping human waste mid-air would receive any compensation.