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Saswat Singhdeo

Bhubaneswar: Soon after a controversy erupted over the seizure of the helicopter of former MP Baijayant Jay Panda on allegations of flying over Chilika Lake, the Chilika Development Authority (CDA) has said that there are no restrictions on flying over the brackish water lagoon.

"CDA has no restrictions on flying over Chilika. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will be able to clearly confirm, if there are any restrictions," CDA Chief Executive, Susanta Nanda said.

Speaking about CM Naveen Patnaik flying his helicopter over Chilika, Nanda said, "The incident happened a year ago, when I wasn't here. Now that it has come to my notice, the matter will be reviewed".

Odisha Forest & Environment minister, Bijayshree Routray also said, "Chilika's ecology has not been affected because of helicopter flying over it. It had only created panic among fishermen in the region. Law will take its own course as per the FIR lodged."

Earlier today, Director of the Biju Patnaik International Airport, SC Hota stated that the former MP had taken permission from the airport authorities and submitted a proper flight plan.

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

On the movement details of the R-44 helicopter piloted by Jay Panda on September 15, 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.

Meanwhile, the issue was also raised in the Assembly and Opposition members created ruckus with senior leaders of the Congress and BJP terming action against the former MP as a political conspiracy.

Congress leader and Opposition party chief whip, Tara Prasad Bahinipati said, “If it is a restricted area, why should the Odisha CM be allowed to fly on the same zone and anyone else doing so is proven wrong. It is a political conspiracy; the chopper could have been seized after a proper probe.’

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

Meanwhile, Puri SP, Sarthak Sarangi told media persons today that "As per inputs from local tourists, it has been confirmed that an IMFA helicopter had landed in Chilika. During inspection, it was found that the helicopter also had a glider facilitating landing on water. Based on the information, we traced that chopper and sealed the hangar while we are waiting for confirmation from the DGCA whether the chopper violated the norms or not. The IMFA authorities, pilot of the chopper and two passengers have been issued notices to furnish all the details in this connection,”

“Any helicopter flying in the area is not allowed to come down below 500 feet, so in this case, Aircraft Act has been violated. Cases have also been registered under wildlife protection act and under sections 277, 278 and 279 of IPC,” he added.

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