Days after a helicopter flown by former Kendrapara MP Baijayant Panda was seized by police for its alleged attempt to land on Odisha’s Chilika Lake, an FIR was registered Friday against Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and four senior BJD leaders for allegedly flying over the lake.
The FIR against the Odisha CM was lodged by Convenor of Jansachetana Nagarika Mancha (Public Awareness Citizens Group) Priyadarshan Pattnaik at Arakhakuda Marine Police Station. The FIR also names Revenue Minister Maheswar Mohanty, Agriculture Minister Pradeep Maharathy, Puri MP Pinaki Mishra and MLA Sanjay Das Burma for previously undertaking similar flights.
“Chilika is our Mother. Law is the same for everyone. If Panda has committed a mistake by flying his chopper over Chilika, so has the CM and the state government,” the complainant said to the press.
Reacting to the FIR, BJD spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP Pratap Keshari De said, “This (FIR) is political gimmickry and mischief, such interests will soon be exposed.”
Meanwhile, Baijayant Panda on Friday wrote a letter to Arakhakuda Police Station requesting the enquiry against him “be undertaken only after completion of the enquiry by the Director General Civil Aviation (DGCA),” which Panda refers to as “the most competent authority to investigate any aviation incidents… possessing requisite technical knowledge and resources.”
Panda also stipulated that if the police is not willing to wait for the DGCA enquiry, then he should be granted at least four weeks to complete the proceedings with the DGCA.
Earlier, Panda’s helicopter was seized Monday following an FIR for an attempted landing on Saturday. The former Kendrapara MP was flying the chopper across a stretch of coastal Odisha up to Konark. The police had also sealed the hangar where the R-44 helicopter, operated by Indian Metals and Ferro Alloys Ltd (IMFA), was parked.
The FIR against Panda, filed by an official with the Chilika Development Authority, said the chopper attempted to land on Chilika, which is a “no-flying eco-sensitive zone”. In response, Panda had tweeted, “lake not on the list of no-fly zones. Also, boss (Naveen Patnaik) flew there (earlier)”.