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Devbrat Patnaik

Bhubaneswar: After former MP Baijayant Panda’s helicopter and hangar were seized at the Bhubaneswar airport on charges of flying in “no flying zone” over Chilika lake, Director of the BPI Airport SC Hota today stated that the former MP had taken permission from the airport authorities along with a proper flight plan.

Hota said, “We cannot say whether Jay Panda flew over the restricted area but he had certainly taken permission and given us his flight plan.”

In the movement details of the R-44 helicopter piloted by Jay Panda, Hota mentioned that the operator had filled the flight plan and also obtained Flight Information Clearance/ Air Defence Clearance (ADC) from Military liasioning Unit MLU (Indian Air Force), Kolkata.

Through a press report, we were asked to furnish information on whether there was any movement of any aircraft over Chilika and we had provided only this information as per our limits, Hota stated.

As per the flight plan, the chopper should fly 500-ft above the ground level and with clearance they went out of the control zone of Bhubaneswar.

He added, “What happens is when the aircraft flies as low as 500-ft above the ground level, it is difficult to avail any data as we lose contact with the chopper after 10-15 miles according to the visual flight rules.”

However, in case of any emergency landing, only the persons in the chopper can contact the airport authorities. Again when they inch closer to the 10-15 mile zone, we direct them as per the air traffic if they can make an immediate landing or have to hold the chopper till the traffic is cleared, he said.

Panda’s flight took off from Bhubaneswar at 08:46 hrs and landed back exactly at 13:26 hrs, mentioned Hota.

However, this is contrary to the FIR copy filed at Marine Police Station in Arakhkuda which says the Chilika Development Authority had reported of a sea plane landing at 1.30 PM, while the airport authorities have cleared the air stating Panda had already landed in Bhubaneswar by that time.

Meanwhile, after the Assembly was adjourned following ruckus over a few issues one being the seizure of Baijayant Panda's chopper, senior leaders of the Congress and BJP termed action against the former MP as a political conspiracy.

Congress' Tara Prasad Bahinipati said, "If it is a reserved area, why should Odisha CM be allowed to fly on the same zone and anyone else doing so is proved wrong. It is a political conspiracy; the chopper could have been seized only after a proper probe.'

Also Read: Brazen attempt by State govt to handicap my movement: Jay Panda on helicopter seizure

Senior BJP leader KV Singhdeo too lambasted the Odisha government saying that the BJD should first demand arrest of CM Naveen Patnaik for flying in the same zone several times.

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