The opposition BJP in Chhattisgarh has raised questions over the maintenance of the state government's helicopter that crashed on Thursday, resulting in the death of two pilots onboard, and demanded a high-level probe.
On Thursday night, the state's senior pilot Captain Gopal Krishna Panda and examiner of Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) Captain A P Shrivastava, who were piloting the AgustaWestland chopper during night practice sortie, died in the crash at Swami Vivekanand Airport here.
"Captain Panda was an experienced and trained pilot. He has been serving in the state since 11 years. Then how did such an incident happen? There is need to thoroughly probe every technical aspect of the chopper. Was there already any technical snag in the chopper that caused the crash, said Leader of Opposition Dharamlal Kaushik on Friday.
A high level probe should be conducted to ascertain whether proper focus was being given to its maintenance, including servicing, he added.
On a query about safety standards of the chopper, Kaushik said, "The Agusta chopper is believed to be a better helicopter and it is also used during election campaigns. It is credible not only in Chhattisgarh but also in the country."
"If the Congress is raising questions over its safety citing it was purchased under our government (in 2007) then it is ridiculous. The chopper was in service for 15 years. If it was defective, how did it work for so long? The point to be looked into is how it was being maintained. If your vehicle breaks down due to lack of maintenance, then its manufacturer cannot be blamed," Kaushik said.
He demanded compensation and a government job to the kin of the deceased pilot.
Meanwhile, state Congress spokesperson Sushil Anand Shukla asked the BJP not to politicise the incident.
"We have lost two ace pilots in the crash and the Congress pays humble tribute to them. It is an irreparable loss and the leader of opposition should not indulge in politics over the tragic incident. An enquiry has already been initiated to ascertain the cause of the crash, he said.
"The biggest question arises whether safety standards of Agusta chopper were taken care of during its purchase (in 2007 in then BJP government). The Congress and experts had at the time raised questions over its safety standards. There were even allegations of corruption in the deal. The leader of the opposition should also answer these issues, Shukla said.
According to officials, a team of investigators from the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB), the highest body under the ministry of civil aviation to probe aircraft accidents, has reached Raipur.
It will be assisted by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in the probe.
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