With a year without flying,paragliding enthusiasts in and around the city have been losing interest,claiming that the sport is on the decline. And while Indian Air Force (IAF) authorities have adopted a simple mandate of issuing a daily no-Objection certificate (NOC) to paragliders,there is confusion among the police and paragliders.
Almost six months after the IAF made it mandatory that daily clearances need to be sought for paragliding around the city provided an NOC is obtained from Pune Rural Police,the police are yet to issue NOCs,grounding the aero sport enthusiasts. While paragliders claim they have applied twice,the police which had promised to issue NOCs in a week from May 1 have still not processed the same.
In a joint meeting between IAF officials,police and paragliders on April 2,a decision was taken to obtain NOCs from Pune Rural Police as well as gram panchayats,under whose jurisdiction the clubs operate. This step was taken after unidentified flying objects were spotted on June 29,30 and December 9 and 25,2012. The non- issuing of NOCs by the police had also resulted in paragliders losing the summer season of flying. Now,with NOCs still pending,the ongoing season which kickstarted on October 1 may also go flightless,feel paragliders.
Eric Menezes,a veteran paraglider,said,We applied for NOCs from the police immediately after the meeting. In fact,the gram panchayats have already issued NOCs to us. But even six months down the lane,the police have not given NOCs to us. I have been following up with the police almost on a daily basis and have in fact submitted a fresh application in September. The flying season started on October 1 and we are still waiting for NOCs.
Manoj Kumar Lohiya,SP,Pune Rural said,Paragliders can approach me and I will ensure the process for NOCs is expedited. It is a security issue and NOCs will be issued only after verification.
Two associations and five clubs,most run by enthusiasts,depend heavily on flying seasons when they earn the maximum to support paragliding as well as make profits. According to Menezes,a club on an average earns about Rs 5-10 lakh per month during the season. While earnings for summer season have been lost,the ongoing season also seems to be going the same way.
If this continues for another year,I will quit flying, Menezes said,adding that almost 40 of 200 enthusiasts have stopped taking interest in continuing with the sport. We are law-abiding citizens and want to follow procedures. But the procedural delays have been adversely affecting paragliding around the city, Menezes said.
An official of the Paragliding Association of India confirmed that despite similar norms,paragliding has been continuing uninterrupted in states such as Goa,thus putting the blame solely on police. IAF has been helpful and is not disrupting flying activity, he said.
Newsline had raised the issue in May when a senior Pune Rural police officer had said,We have received five-six applications (for NOCs). The documents have been sent to respective police stations,whose reports are awaited. The procedure should be completed in a week. But on Tuesday,another senior Pune Rural officer said,We are not the authority to issue permissions,but NOCs will be issued on a case-to-case basis.