In February, officials at the airport’s cargo terminal informed the Greater Chennai Corporation that massive quantity of imported food items were rotting at the cargo terminal.
Nearly 575 tonnes of food items including urad flour, tapioca chips, turmeric, idly rice, crystalline water, imported apples, sunflower oil, frozen Belgium waffles and expired cosmetic products have been rotting at the cargo terminal of Chennai International Airport, and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has approached the city corporation for help.
According to a Times of India report, in February, officials at the airport’s cargo terminal informed the Greater Chennai Corporation that massive quantity of food items all imported was rotting at the cargo terminal. It added that the food stuff was not cleared over the past year and had been declared unfit for human consumption by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). It sought help for disposing biodegradable waste such as apples and other food items into bio-methanation plants and for the corporation to remove the remaining items as well.
The Chennai Corporation Commissioner gave his approval for the initiative. Officials in charge of solid waste management told the paper, “We have asked them to transport the 29.92 tonnes of apples first and send them to bio-methanation plants at Athipet in division 66, Velankadu in division 101 and Otteri in division 104, all located in Tondiarpet.”
The Chennai Corporation wants clearance from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board to handle waste such as soaps and other chemicals.
The Corporation official added, “This is the first time the airport has requested us to treat waste. Since most of the eatables are from cold storage, we avoid taking them. Once, several years ago, the apples we got from the airport were dumped in the landfill in Perungudi. Some locals thought they were edible and consumed them. They all fell sick. Now, we have asked them to send them directly to the bio-methanation plants. Items such as urad dal and idli rice will be dumped in the landfill.”
The AAI headquarters has decided not to store uncleared consignments for long periods. Earlier, they used to dispose waste material every quarter and perishables goods were buried, while other goods were destroyed using road rollers and dumped. Usually, around 90 percent of perishable goods are disposed off in 48 hours. In case of a delay, importers abandon goods which then remain in cold storages at the cargo terminal.A senior AAI official said that most goods that had to be disposed failed the plant quarantine and food quarantine certification. “There are two reasons why perishables are stored in the freezer waiting for disposal mismatch in quarantine documentation and delay in clearing the consignment which makes them useless for the importer. If quarantine papers from the origin countries do not match the rules laid down in India, the consignment will not be cleared,” he said.