ROURKELA: Two aircraft of New Zealand’s Kiwi Air stranded at Rourkela airport since the last many days were engaged by the Geological Survey of India (GSI) for aerial survey before the lockdown came into force.
This was revealed on Tuesday after speculations arose over the presence of these aircraft at the airport of Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) amid the coronavirus panic. These specially-equipped aircraft, capable of taking images and videos while flying, were engaged for multisensory geo-physical survey of GSI to look for mineral deposits in various States. However, the aerial survey was later called off abruptly in view of the coronavirus restrictions.
RSP sources said the GSI had entrusted McPhar, a private agency, for the airborne survey in Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Chhattisgarh. The agency later outsourced the work to Deccan Charter Pvt Ltd which hired the two aircraft of Kiwi Airways from New Zealand.
On March 19, two New Zealand nationals and an Indian arrived in one of the aircraft. The next day, the second one carrying two New Zealand nationals arrived at Rourkela airport. As per standard Covid-19 protocols, the foreigners were screened at RSP-run Ispat General Hospital (IGH) on their arrival. But soon, the four New Zealand nationals left for their country after on getting calls from their embassy leaving behind the aircraft. Subsequently, the nationwide lockdown was enforced on March 24.
The RSP allowed its airport for landing and parking purpose on a commercial basis after being requested by the GSI.