Days after the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issued a circular stating that dumping excreta from a flying airplane would attract a fine of Rs 50,000, the aviation regulator Tuesday told the National Green Tribunal that it was impossible to dump human waste mid-air from aircraft toilets.
The DGCA told a bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel that it has become a "laughing stock" due to this order and sought a stay and review of its order directing the aviation regulator to issue a circular to all airlines operating at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport.
The aviation regulator informed the bench, also comprising Justice Jawad Rahim, that there is a designated place for emptying the waste tank and it cannot open it mid-air.
The bench, however, refused to stay its order and said it would consider the matter on the next date of hearing.
"A circular has already been issued. What is the urgency now? We will see it on the next date of hearing," the bench said.
The DGCA has moved a plea seeking a review and stay of the December 20, 2016 and January 10 order of the tribunal claiming that it was impossible to dump human waste mid-air from aircraft toilets.
The tribunal had earlier issued notices to the original petitioner Lt Gen (Retd) Satwant Singh Dahiya and others while seeking their replies by May 23.
Satwant Singh Dahiya had moved the NGT alleging that faeces were splattered from an aircraft on his South Delhi house before Diwali in 2016 after which the tribunal on December 20, 2016 directed the DGCA to issue a circular to all airlines to pay
Rs 50,000 as environmental compensation if their planes were found dumping waste mid-air.
The petition has referred to the findings of the expert committee, constituted by the NGT, and said there was no switch or system available in the aircraft to dispose waste in flight.
"The aircraft system has three level of in-built external protection for disposing waste and under no circumstances, release of waste during flight is possible and there has been no such resort ever by the operators.
"The modern day airline toilets are sealed and cannot be emptied in flight and toilet waste can only be disposed of by manual operation on ground during its servicing," the plea by DGCA said.
The tribunal had earlier constituted a committee comprising representatives from the DGCA, Central Avian Research Institute and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to collect samples from the house of Satwant Singh Dahiya.
The committee members were directed to send the samples for tests to ascertain whether it was human or bird excreta.
The NGT had earlier directed the CPCB to take a clear stand whether it could differentiate between human excreta and bird poop.
Aviation regulator DGCA has maintained that it was impossible to dump human waste mid-air from aircraft toilets, and bird droppings had landed on the complainant's house, after which the green panel had ordered testing of the excreta samples.
The CPCB had said that there were traces of faecal coliform in the samples, indicating presence of human waste.
The tribunal had in 2016 held that if "any aircraft, airlines and the handling services of registered aircraft" were found to be dumping human waste from air or toilet tanks were found to have been emptied before landing, they shall be subjected to environmental compensation of Rs 50,000 per case of default.
The NGT had also asked the DGCA to carry out surprise inspection of aircraft landing at the airport to check whether their toilet tanks were empty while landing, and prevent the waste from being splashed over residential areas and any other place before landing.