Last Updated: June 9, 2021, 1034hrs

In view of aircraft safety during operation at Tuticorin Airport, the airport has planned to install solar powered aviation obstruction lights at the peak of Vallanadu hills to prevent any accident or incident during night operations.

The Vallanadu hills fall in the approach and takeoff path of the aircraft at Tuticorin Airport. The Airport Authority of India (AAI) had sought the permission for operation from the standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) stating that it was not safe for operation of aircraft during the hours from sunset to sunrise.

As per the guidelines of DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation), lighting of obstacles is intended to reduce hazards to aircraft by indicating the presence of the obstacles and high intensity obstacle lights are to be used to indicate the presence of an object if its height above level of the surrounding grounds exceeds 150 m.

Vallandu Hills which has a peak of 314 metre, thus must be installed with an obstacle light for identification by aircraft during night operations. The obstacle light would be solar powered with surroundings protected by chain link fencing.

The proposed area of 0.01 hectare fell within Vallanadu Blackbuck Sanctuary, the proposal was submitted to Chief Wildlife Warden and the State Board for Wildlife. Both recommended the proposal and forwarded it to NBWL.

The project proponent also clearly stated that there would be no destruction, exploitation or removal of any wildlife including forest produce from the Vallanadu Blackbuck sanctuary in the proposed area for the installation of the aviation obstruction lights.

Thus discussions lead to the conclusion that the AAI would have to obtain all other statuary clearances, submit an impact mitigation and wildlife conservation plan of Vallanadu Blackbuck Sanctuary and any other condition stipulated by the concerned Chief Conservator of Forests / District Forest Officer.

Also it is to be made sure that AAI does not cause any disturbance to the wildlife during the project implementation and submit an annual compliance certificate to the chief wildlife warden.

Tuticorin Airport sources said the forest clearance at all levels had taken over three and half years and the work on installation of the obstruction lights would begin within a fortnight.

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