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Narrow escape for Punjab CM
Chopper crash-lands after hitting overhead wires
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Bahadur Rajoa (Gurdaspur), September 12
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and PWD and Education Minister Pratap Singh Bajwa had a miraculous escape when the Pawan Hans helicopter in which they were travelling crashed while take off.

The Chief Minister visited Bahadur Rajoa village on the banks of the Beas in a helicopter to lay the foundation stone of a 66 KV sub- station. He was to fly to the venue of a rally at Shri Hargobindpur, about 20 km from the site.

However, as soon as the helicopter took off, it got entangled with 11 KV power lines passing nearby. Three rotators of the helicopter got damaged and it crash landed from about 15 feet into a maize field. None of the occupants, including two pilots, an engineer and IG border range Mohamad Mustaffa, received injuries.

The pilot, Lt Col Dhanoa, told The Tribune that lots of dust spread in the area as the helicopter took off. Due to the dust, he could not see the power lines and the helicopter got entangled in them. It was a lucky escape, he said.

Co-pilot R.P.S. Mahal said three rotators and a landing wheel had been damaged. The other damage would be gauged only by engineers. The helicopter was leased to the Punjab Government by the Pawan Hans company. The recovery team of the company would visit the site to rectify the damage.

Sources said the venue for landing was not selected as per norms. The electric wires were too close to the landing site.

As the news of the crash spread, most of the leaders from the rally venue rushed to the site. The Chief Minister was taken to the rally venue by cars. He returned to Chandigarh by car.

The shock to Capt Amarinder Singh was obvious as he addressed the rally. Addressing the rally, the Chief Minister conceded most of the demands made by Mr Fateh Singh Bajwa, brother of Mr Bajwa. He announced another 66 KV sub station for Shri Hargobindpur, Rs 3 crore for the development of the constituency, a degree college, a sports stadium at Ghuman village and Rs 2 crore for sanitation schemes.

The Chief Minister also visited the office of the vice-president of the Congress.



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