New Delhi: The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has dismissed the charges of dangerously flying over Chilika Lake brought against former Kendrapara MP Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda.
In a letter to the director of Bhubaneswar airport, the DGCA has observed that there was no violation of rules and regulations. After conducting a detailed investigation into the incident, DGCA clarified that there was no deviation in the filed flight plan timings and actual timings.
“Based on fact and evidence, it could not be established that the helicopter has flown dangerously below the assigned altitude or have landed at Chilika Lake on September 15, 2018,” the DGCA letter read.
"The helicopter belonging to Indian Metals and Ferro Alloys Ltd (Robinson R 44 Helicopter, VT BDP) has flown non-stop cross country from Bhubaneswar Airport overflying Rajhans, Puri, Konark and finally landed at Garadpur. Similarly, no other helicopter flew over Rajhans on the same day," DGCA mentioned in its letter.
Besides, the helicopter was airworthy and flight crew licences were current and have a reasonable experience on the type, the letter highlighted.
After the DGCA report came out, Jay Panda tweeted….
Total clean chit by DGCA on Odisha Govt's cooked up case against me & my helicopter flying, & sealing a hangar at Biju Patnaik Airport, Bhubaneswar for the past 1.5 months, immobilising 3 choppers (incl 2 against which thr were no allegations whatsoever)! pic.twitter.com/w6jsUJ6m3T
— Baijayant Jay Panda (@PandaJay) October 26, 2018
Earlier, the former MP had categorically claimed that his flight on September 15 was in accordance with the Air Traffic Control (ATC) regulations. Moreover, such allegations were levelled to curtail his movement in the State.
The former parliamentarian had further stated that the allegations over his helicopter ride were changed at least five times by Odisha Police in the past.
It is pertinent to mention here that following the allegations, police had sealed three helicopters parked inside IMFA hangar at Bhubaneswar airport.
“First it was alleged that a seaplane landed in Chilika Lake which was subsequently changed to helicopter. Later it was changed that it had not landed in Chilika instead it flew at a low altitude and the lake is a no flying zone. All the allegations are completely baseless,” Panda had said after appearing before the DGCA on September 24.
Though the DGCA had submitted its investigation report to Bhubaneswar Airport authorities on Thursday, Odisha police is yet to unseal the hangar where all the three helicopters of IMFA have been arbitrarily locked even if the allegations were brought against only one helicopter.
IMFA aviation head, Himansu Mohapatra stated that, “We have got the report of the DGCA and are examining it internally. We are hopeful that the Odisha Police will now open the hangar as we have apprised them that the maintenance of helicopters is overdue.”
Responding to the DGCA's observations, OPCC Chief Niranjan Patnaik said “If DGCA has given clean chit to Baijayant Panda; there is no need for further action. But we think that there was some political vendetta behind such allegations. This should not be the approach of the State government against any political enemy.”
Senior BJP leader Prithviraj Harichandan on the other hand stated that revengeful Odisha government resorted to such means never seen in the political history of the State in the last 50 years.
“DGCA report has exposed Odisha government’s ill intentions and the government has no way to counter it now. Odisha government needs to introspect after all the developments. It is evident that the State government had no information regarding the flight movement and intentionally resorted to such tactics only to harass,” said Harichandan.
Senior Congress leader Ganeshwar Behera stated that Baijayant Panda’s clarification since day one that there was no violation stands vindicated.
“Whatever the former MP was saying was absolutely correct and DGCA report has confirmed this. I condemn the government’s action in the entire incident and demand immediate unsealing of the IMFA hangar,” said Behera.
"We have received the DGCA report and we will review it," said Puri SP Sarthak Sarangi.
BJD leader Pratap Deb on the other hand stated that,"The party has always maintained that law will take its own course which also applies to this case also."