The hectic preparations to host Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the district received a jolt on Monday after one of the Air Force helicopters slightly damaged the helipad at Cheruthuruthy, in the course of the trial runs held on Monday. Though the damage was minor, it did lead to some security concerns at the venue.
However, the two helicopters of the Coimbatore Air Force base, completed their initial trial runs successfully and flew back to Coimbatore in the evening.
When contacted, the authorities declined to comment on the incident. According to some official sources, the incident took place around 11.30 am, during the trial run of the second chopper, at the newly-installed platform, on the Jyothi Engineering College campus, in Cheruthuruthy. The chopper did not sustain any damages during the process, but a small section of the helipad’s bitumen surface crumbled, when the chopper landed on the makeshift runway, they said.
According to them, the delay in the construction of the surface was the main cause of the damage and the heavy spell of rain over the last few days might have exposed the structure. Attempts to remove the ruts from the runway were on and the schedule of landing will be carried out as informed earlier, officials said.P H Ashraf, Superintendent of Police, Thrissur Rural, said foolproof security arrangements have been made for the smooth landing of the choppers at two helipads, near the Kerala Kalamandalam Deemed University for Arts and Culture. However, senior cops declined to comment on or confirm the report of damage to the runway. District Collector P M Francis also declined to comment on the issue.
It is also not known whether the Air Force officials would land the chopper at this ground after the construction failure.
The Prime Minister is scheduled to land here on Wednesday afternoon, as part of his visit to the Kerala Kalamandalam.
A convoy of 21 vehicles is to accompany the Prime Minister from the landing area to the venue, which is only a five-minute drive from the spot.
A team of senior security officials, led by Inspector General Piyush Pandey,
had reviewed the security arrangements at the venue on Sunday.