Politics hots up over Jay Panda’s chopper seizure

Bhubaneswar: A day after the police seized the helicopter of former MP Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda for allegedly flying over Chilika lake which is ‘eco-sensitive zone’, politics has taken centre stage in Odisha after BJP and Congress targeted chief minister Naveen Patnaik, alleging that the CM had first violated the rule by flying over Chilika.

Opposition Chief Whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati termed the action against Panda as ‘political conspiracy’. “His chopper was seized with a political motive. When Naveen Patnaik flew over Chilika, nobody raised the ‘no flying zone’ issue. But, the matter was raised when another person flew over the same zone. I should have been better if his chopper would be seized after proper inquiry,” Bahinipati said.

Similarly, BJP legislature party chief KV Singhdeo demanded arrest of chief Minister Naveen Patnaik as he is the first flyer who violated the rules by flying over Chilika. “If BJD really wants the conservation of Chilika’s eco system, it should first demand the arrest of Naveen Patnaik who had flown several times over the lake,” Singhdeo said.

BJD, however, simply bypassed the matter saying that inquiry report is awaited. “Everything will be cleared after the probe is over,” said BJD MLA Sanjay Dasburma, who led a rally of BJD MLAs on Assembly premises seeking action against Jay Panda.

The BJD MLAs also created ruckus in the State Assembly over the matter, demanding action against Panda.

Police on Monday seized the helicopter of former MP Baijayant Panda for allegedly flying over an “eco-sensitive zone” in Chilika Lake around 1.30 pm on Saturday. The seizure was made on the basis of a complaint lodged by Assistant Conservator of Forests (ACF), Chilika Development Authority (CDA) Binod Acharya with the Marine Police Station at Arakhakuda in the district seeking investigation into the matter.

Panda has rubbished the charge stating that it is a brazen attempt to ‘handicap’ his movement around Odisha. He directly hit out at the office of chief minister that it hatched a conspiracy against him.

“A local cop from Puri has come to Bhubaneswar airport & “seized” the hangar & the helicopter i fly. Clearly, facts have no bearing, & cops privately admit “orders from 3rd floor. Brazen attempt to handicap my movement around Odisha, but they cant stop me,” he tweeted.

Jay Panda was accused of flying his chopper over an “eco-sensitive zone” in Chilika Lake around 1.30 pm on Saturday. Airport records, however, reportedly show that the chopper landed in Bhubaneswar at 1.26 pm.

Panda denied the allegation and stated that he had flown a helicopter at a totally different time.

“Today a State Govt official filed an F.I.R, citing media reports (saying a Seaplane landed in Chilika at 1.30 PM). But, changing description to “helicopter”. F.I.R still says Chilika lending at 1.30 PM, when I’d landed in Bhubaneswar,” he tweeted.

“It so happens i had flown a *helicopter* on Saturday & at a totally different time! ATC records will show that: I flew from 8.45 AM over Rajhans-Puri-Konark & landed at Kendrapada at 10.28 AM. & I flew from Kendrapada at 12.50 PM, landing @ Bhubaneswar 1.30pm,” he tweeted.

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