No Clarification Yet From CMO On Naveen Patnaik’s Aerial Survey Of Flood-Hit Districts
Bhubaneswar: Even though 48 hours have passed since an RTI activist had raised doubts over the veracity of Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik’s recent aerial survey of flood–hit districts, the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) is yet to come up with a clarification on the issue.
On the basis of the information given by the concerned RTI activist, OTV telecast a report on the aerial survey by the CM in which the activist had raised questions, based on the findings, over the veracity of the claims citing details of flight timings. Later, the Airports Authority of India (AAI), in a statement clarified that the CM’s chopper was airborne for 19 minutes. The CM’s flight departed at 3:42 PM on August 31 and landed back at Bhubaneswar Airport at 4:01 PM, the statement said.
However, the RTI activist, Srikant Kumar Pakala, had questioned about the areas the CM had covered during the 19-minute visit. Soon after the aerial survey, the CMO had issued a press brief in which it mentioned that many areas in Balasore, Bhadrak, Jajpur, Kendrapara Jagatsinghpur, Puri and Khordha districts suffered huge damage in the flood. Many villages were marooned, houses and roads were damaged, the statement said. However, it had not specified which particular areas among these districts the CM had made the aerial survey.
In addition, questions were also raised asto how much distance can be covered within 19 minutes and what was the speed of the chopper used by the CM.
According to experts, the distance between Bhubaneswar and Jajpur is 45 nautical miles which means a trip to Jajpur and return to Bhubaneswar is a distance of about 90 nautical miles. The VTOSH chopper in which Odisha CM flew has a maximum speed of 168 knots and to cover 90 nautical miles in 19 minutes, a craft needs to have a maximum speed of 270 knots.
“The chopper used by the CM can cover 40 to 50 miles in 20 minutes. The air distance between Bhubaneswar and Jajpur is 40 to 50 miles. So the visit to Jajpur and return to Bhubaneswar would take 40 to 50 minutes. It is impossible to complete the survey in 19 minutes flying time,” said a pilot, captain Raj Narayan Mohapatra.
“If the chopper had gone to Jajpur and returned within 19 minutes, it is very unsafe. How a VIP flight and a survey flight made the journey in such a hurry? It should be explained why the flying was done in a hurry,” asked captain Manmath Routray.
Prior to airing of the news following the RTI revelations, OTV on October 14 had contacted the CMO seeking response. After repeated call went unanswered, OTV had sent an email to the CMO for clarification. However, no reply has been received from the CMO so far.