News Archieves

Smoke from Pongal bonfire disrupts flight services in Chennai

As many as 18 arriving flights were diverted to Bengaluru and Hyderabad airports.

Chennai: Flight services in and out of Chennai suffered on Saturday following a thick cover of smoke due to ‘Bhogi’ festival celebrations, airport officials said.

Between 4-8 am, both the incoming and the outgoing air traffic suffered.

Flight services resumed after 9 am.

As many as 18 arriving flights were diverted to Bengaluru and Hyderabad airports. They flew in from various destinations such as Kuwait, Sharjah and Delhi.

No flights took off during this period, resulting in delays and scores of passengers waiting at the airport.

A report on NDTV quoted a senior officer at the airport saying, “The visibility has dipped to 50 metres and since 3:30 am we have no flight activity. We hope there would be interested in an hour once breeze sets in clearing the air.”

Bhogi, celebrated ahead of the Tamil harvest festival Pongal on Sunday, involves burning of old articles in a symbolic gesture of bidding adieu to the old and welcoming the new.

The celebrations started on Saturday morning with people setting bonfires on the streets with agricultural and household waste.

Bonfires made using mats, paper, clothes and cardboard boxes dotted the streets of Chennai from as early as four on Saturday morning.

Meanwhile, motorists plied their vehicles with their headlights on following the smoke cover which descended on the city and its neighbourhoods.

The government launches regular awareness campaigns ahead of Bhogi, aimed at smoke-free celebrations of the day.

Over the last ten years, the pollution control board in Tamil Nadu has been generating awareness ahead of Pongal, asking people to avoid burning materials.