Indigo Airlines has moved the National Green Tribunal against its order banning spray of disinfectants in aircraft while passengers are on board. The no-frills airline has sought modification of the August 3, 2015 direction to Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to ensure that no disinfectant fumigation is carried out in plane if any person is sitting inside.
It has contended in its plea that there is a spiralling increase in dengue and malaria cases with the onset of monsoons and due to the “blanket” ban they were not able to take any step for protection and safety of passengers. Noting the submissions, a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar issued notices to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, the DGCA and the original petitioner in the case.
The matter is listed for next hearing on June 2. Senior advocate Pinaki Misra, appearing for the airline, said June is a critical month as there is a sudden spurt in dengue and malaria cases because weather conditions are conducive for mosquito-breeding. He told the green panel that the airlines has already received over 900 complaints from different flyers and some of them have even filed cases against the company in consumer forum.
The lawyer sought modification of the order to the extent that they be allowed to spray the disinfectant only on “need basis” if the situation so demands. Heeding to the plea of a United States-based neurologist, the NGT had directed the Centre to ensure that no disinfectant fumigation is carried out in aircraft while passengers are on board.
“You are supposed to kill mosquitoes not human beings. You cannot take risk with the health of the people. “Carry out the disinfectant fumigation prior to loading of passengers or when the aircraft is empty,” it had said.
The order had come on the plea filed by Dr Jain Kumar, a neurologist and director of the Primary Stroke Centre at Baylor Hospital in Texas. Kumar had contended that spraying of pesticides on planes with chemicals like phenothrin, an organo-phosphorus neurotoxin, was injurious to human health as their use carries risk of causing cancer and auto-immune diseases like lupus, Parkinson’s disease and memory loss.
According to the petitioner, while all other airlines have stopped spraying of pesticides, this practice is prevalent in all Indian airlines operating internationally.