Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government has written to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) requesting it to hand over the abandoned Dakota aircraft, which was once flown by late Chief Minister Biju Patnaik.
The Dakota (VT-AUI) aircraft belongs to the erstwhile Kalinga Airlines founded by the former Chief Minister.
In the letter, the Commerce & Transport Department on Tuesday urged the AAI to grant necessary permission to hand over the Dakota aircraft to Odisha government.
Last week, Transport Special Secretary Manoj Mishra had informed media about the government’s decision to bring back Dakota to Odisha.
With old aircraft inside the Kolkata airport being sold on scrap, the AAI had earlier sent repeated reminder to the Odisha government to take back the aircraft.
“The state government will decide the place to keep this aircraft once it is brought from Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata,” he added.
Notably, the Odisha government had earlier decided to park the aircraft on Anand Bhawan premises, the ancestral house of Biju Patnaik at Tulsipur in Cuttack. The decision was later altered due to lack of space.
Reliable source said that the aircraft will be brought to Odisha by road. Since it is not possible to bring the aircraft as a whole, it will be dismantled and again assembled once brought back to Odisha. Paints will be applied to the damaged portions of the aircraft to give it a new look. The aircraft will be kept inside the Biju Patnaik International Airport.
The Kalinga Airlines had 14 aircraft of which the Dakota was Biju Patnaik’s favourite aircraft. It was this aircraft on which he had flown out Sultan Sjahrir, the revolutionary independence leader and Prime Minister of Indonesia from a jungle hideout and reached India via Singapore on July 24, 1947, on the instructions of then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.