Pawan Hans makes emergency landing near Katra town

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, Dec 30: A Pawan Hans helicopter made an emergency landing inside a field at village Chamaira near Siar Dabri in Prankote area, about 12 kilometers from Katra town, the base camp of Mata Vaishno Devi shrine, after it developed a technical snag causing injuries to Pilot and all six passengers, flying in it this afternoon.
All flights of Pawan Hans and Global Vectra, which operate between Katra-Sanji Chat, have been suspended pending clearance from a team of Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), which was reaching Katra town tomorrow for an inquiry into causes of the accident and suggest more safety measures for the flights to holy cave shrine.
Official sources told the Excelsior that Pawan Hans helicopter had taken off from Katra carrying six devotees. Within minutes of take off, the helicopter developed technical snag and Pilot Col (Retired) Amarjit Singh Parmar made emergency landing of the chopper in a field away from civil population at village Chamaira (Bagga Kotli) near Siar Dabri area of Prankot at 12.07 pm within three minutes of the take off.
“As there was no proper space for landing in the field, the helicopter slided leading to injuries to all seven persons on board including the Pilot and six passengers”, sources said.
As nearby people flashed message of emergency landing made by the helicopter, civil and police authorities rushed to the spot. They included Additional CEO Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) Dr Mandeep K Bhandari, Deputy Commissioner, Reasi, Nirmal Sharma, SSP Reasi Raghubir Singh and SP Katra Mohan Lal.
Later, Principal Secretary to Governor, Navin Choudhary, who happens to be CEO of SMVDSB and IGP Jammu Dilbagh Singh also reached the spot for on spot investigations.
All six injured were rushed to hospital in Katra, where they were given medical aid. The Pilot was later shifted to Command Hospital in Udhampur while six passengers were referred to Government Medical College hospital in Jammu. Sources said the Pilot and four passengers had spine injuries due to emergency landing of the helicopter. One of the devotees also had minor head injury.
“It was a narrow escape for the Pilot and the pilgrims in the emergency landing as the helicopter had developed technical snag and anything could have happened”, sources said. They ruled out poor visibility in the area saying it was bright sunshine on Katra and Mata Vaishno Devi ji hills today.
Besides Pilot Amarjit Singh Parmar, six devotees injured in emergency landing have been identified as Arun Kumar, 24, son of Sudhir Kumar and his 28 years old son Chetan Kumar, residents of Ashok Vihar, New Delhi, Raj Rani, 67, wife of Updesh Kumar R/o New Delhi, Meenakshi, 48, wife of Sandeep Kumar R/o Geeta Colony, New Delhi, Aarti Puri, 34, daughter of Yashpaul Puri and her mother Anita Puri, 54, residents of Jangpura, Extension New Delhi.
Doctors in the GMC Jammu described condition of all of them as stable though they had spine and head injuries, which were very minor in nature. Condition of the Pilot was also stable.
Immediately after emergency landing by the Pawan Hans helicopter, the authorities ordered suspension of all flights from Katra to Sanji Chat and back by both the companies including Pawan Hans and Global Vectra, which operate between Trikuta Hills carrying pilgrims from Katra to Sanji Chat, about three kilometers short of Mata Vaishno Devi Bhawan and vice versa.
Sources said the flights would remain suspended till a two members team of the DGCA, which was reaching Katra tomorrow, commenced the inquiry and gave clearance for operation of chopper service.
SMVDSB CEO Navin Choudhary today wrote to the DGCA for holding a time bound inquiry into emergency landing by Pawan Hans and technical snag developed in the helicopter. Mr Choudhary said that a two members team of the DGCA would be reaching Katra tomorrow to commence the inquiry.
Sources said till the DGCA team gave a go ahead, the flights of Pawan Hans and Global Vectra to Mata Vaishno Devi shrine would remain suspended. The holy cave shrine witnessed heavy rush of pilgrims on the New Year eve on December 31 and January 1.
Some of the pilgrims, who had earlier flown in the helicopters from Katra to Sanji Chat and back, rang up the Excelsior saying on many occasions the Pilots didn’t stop rotors of the helicopters after landing. They keep the rotors on, ask the passengers to de-board, pick up new passengers and make another sortie.
This, they said, was done to save time but was a risky affair. Normally after every sortie, the rotors have to be stopped and helicopter checked by the engineers. However, they added, this practice was not being followed to make more sorties.
However, no official of the two companies was available for comments. There was also no official version from Pawan Hans on emergency landing and follow up inquiry.
This was after a long time that a helicopter made an emergency landing in Katra. A long back, the helicopter had safely landed in a village due to technical snag. The people had also been alleging that the helicopters flew over the civil areas of Katra and any mishap could lead to catastrophe.
Sources said Shrine Board authorities, civil and police administration spared no time in evacuating the injured Pilot and pilgrims from the site of emergency landing and shifted them to Katra from where they were further referred to the GMC Jammu and Military Hospital, Udhampur.
An official handout of Raj Bhawan said Governor NN Vohra, who happens to be chairman of the Shrine Board, directed his Principal Secretary and CEO SMVDSB Navin Choudhary to proceed to the spot and supervise rescue, relief and other required measures.
Mr Choudhary said three passengers including the Pilot of the affected helicopter were brought to Katra hospital by a rescue helicopter while ambulances shifted four passengers.
The handout said the CEO had arranged evacuation of injured from Katra to Jammu by helicopter but this couldn’t materialize due to adverse weather conditions over Nandni. The injured were then shifted to GMC Jammu in Critical Care ambulances while the Pilot was evacuated to Command Hospital, Udhampur.
The Governor has directed the CEO to ensure best medical treatment and other required assistance to the passengers and their families at the expense of the Shrine Board.
Rahul Sharma, Deputy CEO and Dr Vinod Gupta, who works for the Shrine Board as Medical Superintendent, have been deputed to supervise medical treatment of the passengers at the GMC Jammu.

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