Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s helicopter kept hovering midair for about 45 minutes as it could not locate the coordinates for landing at Kotpad in Koraput district on Thursday.
Although the chopper did not go missing from radar, it gave security agencies nervous moments. With the aircraft not making it to Kotpad on time, rumour mills went on the overdrive over the CM missing in air.
However, sources in the State Police said, the wrong coordinates sent for landing left the pilot looking for the exact spot. Since Koraput is a Maoist-affected region, the news spread like wildfire.
The state government suspended Biranchi Mohanty, an executive engineer in Works Department for dereliction of duty and furnishing wrong longitude; latitude details, Department Secretary Nalinikant Pradhan informed media.
Naveen had gone on to Koraput for laying foundation stone for new projects and handing out welfare benefits to beneficiaries at Jeypore as well as Kotpad. The chopper landed at Jeypore on time and took off for Kotpad at about 12.40 pm. However, till 1.30 pm, the chopper carrying CM and his officials did not show up triggering speculation.
“Since the coordinates sent to the pilot from Koraput was wrong, the helicopter kept hovering in air for more than 45 minutes looking for the landing spot. As soon as the SP and DIG, who were coordinating the matter, came to know about the delay, rectified coordinates were sent in following which the chopper landed at the public meeting spot,” said sources.
“I became the victim of typographical error of officials. I will apprise the details to my higher-ups. The data was prepared as per December 28 tour plan,” suspended official Biranchi Mohanty said in his reaction to the development.