NEW DELHI: Trinamool Congress MPs raised the issue of the West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee's IndiGo flight apparently been made to hover over Kolkata despite the plane reporting low fuel in both the Houses of the Parliament, which saw another day washed out due to pandemonium. While the TMC MPs claimed that the security of the chief minister was compromised, the government countered their claims, saying that the pilot of the plane in question did not seek priority landing.
Leader of the TMC in the Lok Sabha Sudip Bandyopadhyay raised the issue in the House, saying that the plane with Banerjee was made to hover around Kolkata for 30 minutes despite being on low fuel. Banerjee was coming from Patna on Wednesday evening. TMC vice-president and Rajya Sabha MP Mukul Roy claimed that “a conspiracy was hatched to eliminate Banerjee”. He had also written a letter to Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapati Raju.
However, Raju, while replying in the Lok Sabha, said that the plane in the question had to hover around for just eight minutes and there was sufficient fuel to allow it to land at its alternative airport at Bhubanseshwar. He also stated that an enquiry has been ordered into the issue, since two more planes had also reported low fuel. “But none of the pilots in the queue for landing press for priority landing at the Kolkata airport,” added Raju.
Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ananth Kumar, while intervening, stated that the safety and security of all passengers, including VVIPs, are topmost priority for the government.
Meanwhile, IndiGo in a statement stated that its flight carrying Banerjee was delayed due to congestion over Kolkata before making a normal landing and had adequate fuel. “The flight 6E 342 with 174 passengers on board made a normal landing at Kolkata airport. The captain did not declare a fuel priority or an emergency. There was some misunderstanding between the Air Traffic Controller and the pilot,” the statement noted.
“The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) ordered an enquiry to find out how three flights at the same time could fly low on fuel into Kolkata when the norms mandate them to carry enough fuel to enable hovering for 30-40 minutes as well as to carry it to the nearest diversion airport, which in this case was Bhubaneshwar,” Raju stated.
Afterwards, the Lok Sabha witnessed pandemonium, with the Opposition demanding discussion on demonetization with voting. The government stuck its grounds, saying discussion could be held without voting.
"It is a great waste of the last 15 days. They are not representing the voice of people. Congress has lost the direction completely," Kumar later told reporters.