Puri: In response to the clean chit given by Director General Civil Aviation (DGCA) to the helicopter belonging to the IMFA with regards to its flight on September 15 this year, the Odisha Police maintained that they would not release it from the hanger at the Biju Patnaik International Airport in Bhubaneswar as the report furnished by it is incomplete.
Taking to mediapersons on Saturday, Puri SP Sarthak Sarangi made it clear that the police will not release the IMFA helicopter as the DGCA in its report has not mentioned anything about the exact altitude at which the helicopter was flying over Chilika Lake.
“We had seized the three helicopters of the IMFA Aviation parked inside the hangar at the Biju Patnaik International Airport. We have no problem in releasing the two other helicopters. We had sought the details from the DGCA about the place where the helicopter had landed and the height of its flight. While the DGCA in its report has mentioned the details of its landing, it has not furnished any information about the height at which the helicopter was flying. Once we get the details, we will take necessary action in this regard,” Sarangi said.
Notably, the head of the IMFA Aviation Himanshu Mohapatra, in a letter to the Puri SP, had requested him to release the two helicopters from the hangar. But the SP in his reply had said that the police cannot release these two helicopters till a clearance from the DGCA is obtained.
He had also said since these two helicopters have not been used since September 15, there is every possibility that they might go out of order due to lack of maintenance. In case there is any mishap during the flight of these two helicopters, the Puri police would be held responsible.
In a letter to the director of the Biju Patnaik International Airport on October 25, Director, Air Safety, M.J. Singh on behalf of the DGCA, said with reference to the letter no-2251/SR of the Odisha Police dated September 15, 2018, an investigation was made into the alleged violation of flights by the IMFA helicopter. The investigation concluded that there was no violation observed of the DGCA rules and regulations. The DGCA, India, investigated the complaint of dangerous flying of the helicopter/aircraft over the Chilika Lake on September 15.
On investigation, it was revealed that one helicopter belonging to M/s Indian Metals & Ferro Alloys (IMFA) Ltd, Robinson R44 with registration VT-BDP has flown non-stop cross-country from Bhubaneswar Airport overflying Rajhans, Puri, Konark and finally landed in Garadpur. No other helicopter has flown over Rajhans on September 15,” the letter stated.
The letter has also mentioned that the helicopter was airworthy and the flight crew licenses were current and have a reasonable experience.
The investigation has found that there was no significant deviation in the flight plan timing and actual timing. Based on the facts and evidence, it could not be established whether the helicopter flew dangerously below the assigned altitude or landed at the Chilika Lake, the letter has pointed out.
On September 17, the Odisha police had seized the IMFA helicopter owned by the former Kendrapara MP Baijayant Panda and the hangar on charges of making an undeclared landing on the lake.
This followed a complaint lodged by Assistant Conservator of Forests, Chilika Development Authority (CDA), Binod Acharya in this regard at the Marine Police Station in Arakhakuda in Puri. The FIR mentioned the unauthorized flying of a chopper at a dangerous level, endangering the life and property of tourists, fishermen and the locals.
Though Baijayant admitted of having flown his helicopter the same day, he said it landed in Bhubaneswar at a different time, which can be checked from the Airport Traffic Control (ATC) record.
Amid allegations of flying over Chilika Lake violating the norms, former Kendrapara MP Baijayant Panda had appeared in the Director General Civil Aviation’s (DGCA) office in New Delhi on September 24.
A seaplane reportedly landed at Nanganashi mouth of Chilika at 1.30 pm on September 15 leaving everyone in the locality confused and stunned. The chopper, Baijayant had tweeted, reached Bhubaneswar at 1.26 pm.