Bhubaneswar, Sep 18 (PTI) Former Lok Sabha MP Baijayant Panda's chopper has seen seized by the police for his alleged bid to land over the Chilika Lake - an 'eco-sensitive, no-flying zone' in the coastal belt of the state, police said.
Panda, who quit the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in May following his suspension for "anti-party activities", accused the state government of trying to "handicap his movement" on Twitter.
"An FIR filed by the Chilika Development Authority (CDA) at the Marine Police Station in Puri has alleged unauthorised flying of a chopper at a "dangerous level" on September 15," Superintendent of Police Sarthak Sarangi said.
The action was taken Monday upon verification of flying records at the Bhubaneswar airport, the Puri SP said.
"Panda's chopper was seized and a hangar belonging to his family at the Biju Patnaik International Airport here sealed late on Monday," Sarangi added.
A CDA official said the FIR was filed on the basis of reports gathered from local people in the Chilika area.
Panda, on his part, denied the allegation and claimed that he had no intention of landing on Chilika and the chopper was not flying low.
"A local cop from Puri has come to Bhubaneswar airport & seized the hangar & the helicopter I fly Brazen attempt to handicap my movement around Odisha, but they can't stop me," he tweeted.
The former MP also clarified that he was flying to Kendrapara to meet parents of two children, who recently drowned in a pond.
"@odisha_police, yr (your) illegal seizure of helicopter may slow me, but can't stop me from reaching ppl (people)," he added.
The issue led to a heated exchange of words between the ruling BJD members and opposition Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party MLAs during Tuesday's Assembly session.
The ruling party members staged a dharna on the Assembly premises, demanding immediate arrest of Panda over violation of environmental norms.
BJP Legislature Party leader K V Singhdeo, however, extended support to the former parliamentarian.
"We are maintaining double standards. We are opposing chopper landing in Chilika, while allowing hundreds of mechanised boats to operate in the lagoon," he said.
Congress MLA and Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra sought a thorough investigation into the case.
Meanwhile, Forest and Environment Minister Bijayshree Routray said the state government will take necessary actions in the matter as per law.
"A preliminary investigation shows that the flight made a landing at Chilika. He (Panda) committed a mistake by flying at a low-level in a fragile and eco-sensitive area," she asserted.
S C Hota, the director of Biju Patnaik International Airport, stated that the former MP had received permission from the authorities after producing a "proper flight plan".
He, however, could not confirm if Panda flew over the restricted area. PTI AAM SKN RMS KJ