Green panel seeks curbs on flights operating at night

Taking a stand against noise pollution, the National Green Tribunal on Tuesday asked why night curfew is not imposed for flights to and from airports across the country, and directed the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to provide data on flights landing at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi at night.

Taking the government to task over lack of norms on noise pollution in residential areas near airports across the country, the NGT asked, "Why should there not be night flying restrictions at airports."

A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar directed the government to file a short note on the steps taken by it to notify noise-level standards for airport noise zones.

It also asked the DGCA to give a break-up of flights landing between 10:00 pm and 7:00 am at the IGI airport.

"What steps have you introduced to curb noise pollution in residential areas near airports so that people are not disturbed? Why should there not be night flying restrictions at airports? You give a short note on these aspects," the bench said.

The government told the bench it was adopting various aircraft noise mitigation measures like Continuous Descent Approach and mixed mode approach to bring down noise levels at airports. Continuous Descent Approach or Optimized Profile Descent is a landing method designed to reduce fuel consumption and noise compared to other conventional descents.

The NGT had earlier expressed displeasure over the government's failure to fix environmental norms on noise pollution and directed the Environment Ministry, DGCA and Central Pollution Control Board to convene a meeting and take a clear decision on the issue.

The green panel was hearing a bunch of pleas filed by the residents of South Delhi's Vasant Kunj, Bijwasan and Indian Spinal Injuries Centre (ISIC), a super-speciality hospital located near the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport.

The pleas alleged that the noise created by aircraft at the IGI airport was affecting the health of the residents of nearby areas

The hospital has claimed that the noise created by planes were usually between the range of 75 and 94 decibels, which was "clearly beyond the stipulated standards laid down under the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000".

The Supreme Court had last November referred the matter to NGT, saying the parties would not claim any interim order before the tribunal.