15 June, 2021

The Shortest Sortie?

Did Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik make a 19-minute aerial survey of flood-affected areas on August 31? Experts say he couldn’t have gone far in that short time.

The Shortest Sortie?

Did he, didn’t he? A reply to an RTI query by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has raised questions about whether or not Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik made an aerial survey of the state’s flood-affected areas on August 31. If he did, which areas did he survey? The questions surfaced after the AAI’s reply: that the helicopter was airborne for no more than 19 minutes. Aviation experts say the VTOSH chopper the CM flew has a maximum speed of 168 nautical miles and could not have gone far from Bhubaneswar if it was airborne for just 19 minutes. A token fly-past over an area in Puri district close to Bhubaneswar is the most he could have done in that many minutes, they say.

A press release from the chief minister’s office (CMO) on the day of the survey talks about the damages caused by the floods in Puri, Khordha, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Jajpur, Bhadrak and Balasore districts. It doesn’t say which of these areas he visited.

Pradip Pradhan, convenor of the Odisha Soochana Adhikar Abhijan, is convinced the CM never made the...

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