Onboard disinfectant fumigation: IndiGo urges NGT to take cognizance of its plea for safety of passengers

| Updated: Jul 11, 2017 01:05 IST

New Delhi [India], July 10 (ANI): The no-frills carrier IndiGo on Monday explained the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that with the monsoon arriving and the risk of vector-borne diseases accelerating there is an urgent need of disinfectant fumigation in the plane as per need. IndiGo, represented by senior counsel, Pinaki Misra and Phoenix Legal, appeared today and argued that the case was admitted by the NGT on the previous date of hearing on July 3, because it understood the urgency involved in the matter, which was that health and safety of the passengers was being compromised on a daily basis given the alarming increase in vector borne diseases in the country. "As of today, air carriers were restricted by a 2015 blanket ban imposed pursuant to the NGT's order of 2015 on spraying any insecticides in aircraft while passengers are on board. It is for this reason that Directorate General of Civil Aviation ('DGCA') was asked on 3 July 2017 (the previous date of hearing) to respond on the practice of spraying insecticides globally," said Misra. Misra also reminded the NGT that the present case arose out of a May 2017 review where IndiGo had sought review of the earlier 2015 NGT ban on spraying, on a bonafide basis and on its own expense, because over time it was receiving many complaints from passengers and also believes it is an increasing threat to its passengers and wanted to safeguard them from the risks of dangerous diseases like dengue, chikungunya, and Zika virus. "IndiGo was also conscious of its responsibility to avoid the spread of these diseases from one region to the other through their aircraft," said Misra. Misra further elaborated that the situation now was dire in as much as monsoons had arrived across India and it was leading to an increase in breeding of mosquitoes across the country. IndiGo had in the previous hearing suggested that such spraying can be done using a different insecticide (WHO-approved permethrin) instead of the insecticide (D-Phenothrin) that was in question in the 2015 proceedings when the NGT banned all insecticides. Misra also offered that such spraying could be subject to strict directions of the pilot, who, per law has the final say in the safety of the aircraft and its passengers. The NGT recognised that the review was disposed of by a vacation bench on technical grounds and IndiGo was allowed to file a fresh case to resolve this issue. The NGT understood and appreciated IndiGo's concern as also the urgency of the situation. The NGT sought a response from the counsel for DGCA who responded that after the previous hearing on July 3, a response had been sought by them from all domestic air carriers and all international air carriers operating out of India on whether they were carrying on the practice of spraying insecticides in their aircraft. So far, they had received a response from 23 carriers and more time was sought to place responses from all carriers. In his defence, Misra pointed out that while this practice was being followed in advanced countries like the U.S., Indian passengers were being subjected to risks of dengue, chikungunya, Zika etc without any protection. The NGT understood the urgency and gravity of the situation and it directed the DGCA to submit the collated responses of all air carriers in this regard within 10 days. The NGT said that it was conscious that these aspects will have to be addressed expeditiously and fixed the case for a hearing on 26 July 2017. (ANI)