The National Green Tribunal has junked a retired army officer's plea that aircraft were dumping human excreta on his south Delhi residence, saying it might have been a mischief done by an individual. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said there was no material to link the waste found on the wall of the applicant to the aircraft.
"If such waste had come from the aircraft, the incidents would have been frequent, given the large number of aircraft flying. Beyond the isolated two incidents which have been pointed out, there is no material to ensure that such incidents are frequent.
"Linking the two incidents of excreta being on walls of the applicant, there is no reasonable possibility of the same being from an aircraft so as to burden DGCA with any liability or to award compensation to the applicant," the bench said.
The bench added, "There could equally be possibility of any individual mischief unlinked to any aircraft. In such circumstances, 'precautionary' principle of environment law cannot be involved."
The tribunal passed the order after noting a report filed by the Central Pollution Control Board which stated that the source of the excreta could not be identified and no concrete information of the incident was available.
On October 2016, a Delhi resident, Lt Gen (retd) Satwant Singh Dahiya, had filed a case alleging that houses in his neighbourhood were damaged by faeces dumped by aircraft at night.
Dahiya had moved the NGT alleging that faeces were splattered from aircraft on his south Delhi house before Diwali in 2016 after which the tribunal on December 20, 2016 had directed the DGCA to issue a circular to all airlines to pay Rs 50,000 as environmental compensation if their planes are found dumping waste midair.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation had then filed a review petition against the NGT order seeking a stay, claiming that it was impossible to dump human waste mid-air from aircraft toilet.
The DGCA filed an affidavit stating the findings of a three-member technical committee which said there is no switch or system available in the aircraft to dispose of the lavatory waste in flight.
"The lavatory waste can only be disposed of on the ground during its ground servicing of the aircraft. For disposing the waste, external latch panel on the aircraft's body is first opened manually," the committee had said.
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 that their toilet tanks are not empty while landing and prevent waste from being splashed over residential areas and any other place before landing.