Bhubaneswar: After an FIR was filed by state government officials in connection with a helicopter flying over the 'No Flying Eco Sensitive Zone' of Chilika Lake, police on Monday seized the helicopter of former MP Baijayant Panda. However, Panda termed the action a vindictive attempt by the 'third floor' of the State secretariat to curtail his movement across the State.
Panda took to Twitter to inform about the seizure of his helicopter and alleged that attempts are being made to handicap his movement around Odisha.
"A local cop from Puri has come to Bhubaneswar airport & 'seized' the hangar & the helicopter i fly... Clearly, facts have no bearing, & cops privately admit 'orders from 3rd floor' ...Brazen attempt to handicap my movement around Odisha, but they can't stop me," (sic) Panda tweeted.
Earlier, Panda had said that attempts are being made by the government to falsely implicate and drag him into controversy in connection with the incident.
"Saw newsreports today of a Seaplane landing on Chilika lake at 1.30 PM on Sat (15th). Am now getting info that Odisha govt authorities are trying to twist the facts & falsely implicate & drag me into controversy!" (sic) wrote Panda in a tweet.
Revealing his flying details, Panda tweeted "It so happens i had flown a *helicopter* on Saturday & at a totally different time! ATC records will show that: I flew from 8.45 AM over Rajhans-Puri-Konark & landed at Kendrapada at 10.28 AM... & I flew from Kendrapada at 12.50 PM, landing @ Bhubaneswar 1.30pm (sic)."
Panda further said a state government official filed an FIR citing media reports saying that a Seaplane landed in Chilika at 1.30 PM, changing description to helicopter. While the FIR says the Chilika landing was at 1.30 PM, Panda said he had already landed in Bhubaneswar by that time.
Meanwhile, another tweet with a letter purportedly from the Biju Patnaik International Airport authorities surfaced revealing the movements of the helicopter of Panda on September 15 and showed that the said helicopter arrived at Bhubaneswar at 13:26 (IST).
Later in the day, Puri SP, Sarthak Sarangi informed mediapersons that "The helicopter had clearance for flying but there has been a violation of aircraft & wildlife acts. IMFA authorities have been called to know the details. Everything will be clear after investigation."'
On the other hand, reports of CM Naveen Patnaik's chopper flying over Chilika Lake when he went to inaugurate Swosti Chilika Resort doing rounds, have added fuel to the controversy. Moreover, sources questioned the double standards stating that Chilika is not in "no flying zone" list of the Civil Aviation ministry and if Panda is guilty of flying over eco sensitive zone, CM Naveen Patnaik also flew over Chilika a few months ago.