Saturday, May 27, 2017

Was dust the devil behind Latur crash?

Mumbai: As the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) begins its probe into the helicopter mishap in Latur involving Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, there is speculation that the heavy blanket of dust that enveloped the aircraft may have led to the accident.

State government officials, who declined to be named, said the helipad hadn’t been watered properly to keep the dust from kicking up due to the wind from the helicopter’s main rotor. This, they said, could be due to the spotlight on the use of tankers to water down helipads for VVIP visits. Last year, Latur was among the drought-affected districts, and the State government had to send a water train to bring relief to people there.

The State government said it will wait for the DGCA’s inquiry report. “The DGCA report is likely to be submitted within a month. Action from our side shall be taken based on the report’s findings,” a senior government official said. He, however, claimed all security norms had been followed and the dust that covered the helicopter was not from the area around the helipad but from leftover construction material nearby. “The helipad was used three months ago. We don’t think there was any compromise on security.”

A Public Works Department (PWD) officer said, “We always read news stories about water tankers being used for VIP visits, which are exaggerated at times. The negative media coverage ultimately hampers work. I am not saying this is the case in this incident, but we cannot rule out the possibility.”
27/05/17 Alok Deshpande/The Hindu