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An Environmental Implication: Fumes of Aircraft
by Pallavi Saxena
2010-05-17 09:09:19
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There have been remarkable chapters in the history of science & technology which lead to splendid success in the production and manufacturing market. One of them is the aviation technology, it helps the people a lot to make travel as well as means of communication easier and faster and prove to be the fastest mode of transport. But here is a bit of news that might disturb those going gaga over travel becoming “easier and affordable”. In 2004, the Committee for Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP, a body of the UN-affiliated, International Civil Aviation Organization, ICAO) estimated that the world’s aircraft fleet would touch 25,000 by 2020: more than double the 2002 figure of 12317. But the committee thought that was a matter of great concern. This was because, “recent research…..indicate that aircraft-induced cirrus clouds are potentially the biggest contributors to climate change”.

Problems at Glance

This is not all. Modern airports are huge industrial and economic centres. The vicinity of these airports is subjected to the impact of noise and air pollution. The ecology around these air terminals is disturbed; wildlife and land-use and water resources are affected. The ICAO is not oblivious to these concerns. In fact way back in 1967, the council of the organization approved a proposal that guidance material should be prepared to help states develop and plan the expansion of existing international airports in accordance with environmental goals. In its 2004 meet, the ICAO asked the CAEP to take account of developments in areas such as land-use planning, noise abatement operation procedures and emission control. It has also asked the committee to keep track of the IPCC’s work and keep the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change informed of its activities. The CAEP has also been asked to prepare a technical manual on the environmental impacts of aviation. Analyzing noise abatements measures is also on the anvil. Such interventions have become critical. India is particularly susceptible to aircraft pollution. This is more so because the country’s population is 14 per cent of that of the world, while India’s land area is only 2 per cent of that of the world. Therefore, airport environments have to deal with pressure from housing enclaves and other built-in-areas.

Measures to be Taken

Aviation is a subject on the central list of legislation. Yet, most states in the country have shown a keen interest to develop airports in recent years. There is a need for proactive interaction between the MoCA and the Union ministry for environment and forests (MoEF), as well as between these ministries and organizations such as he Directorate General of Civil Aviation, the Airports Authority of India and the state aviation departments. Today: only the MoEF makes environmental impact assessments for major expansion works at airports. It’s time the concerned ministries, departments and agencies combine to frame policies, which will consider the recommendations of the ICAO committee on environment protection and the organization’s airport planning manual.



Pallavi Saxena
Centre for Environmental management of Degraded Ecosystems (CEMDE), University of Delhi


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