Biju Patnaik’s Dakota aircraft to leave Kolkata for Bhubaneswar memorial

Biju Patnaik’s Dakota aircraft to leave Kolkata for Bhubaneswar memorial

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The Odisha government is set to bring former chief minister Biju Patnaik’s Dakota aircraft to Bhubaneswar from Kolkata.

The decision came after the Airports Authority of India (AAI) agreed to hand over 1.1 acres on the premises of the Biju Patnaik International Airport (BPIA) in Bhubaneswar for a memorial that will house the aircraft.

According to a senior Home department official, efforts were made to transport the aircraft to Odisha in the past two years. The tender was also floated for the initiative, but the Covid-19 pandemic stalled the plan.

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“The administration is now all set to complete the process, as the AAI, at its recent board meeting, accepted the state government’s proposal to lease out 1.1 acres of land to set up a memorial where the aircraft will be put on display,” the official said.

The parts will be reassembled in Bhubaneswar after necessary repairs, he explained.

A tribute to Biju Patnaik

Patnaik was a social reformer and a politician. He was also a highly skilled pilot who flew planes and undertook high-risk missions before Independence.

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Prasanna Pradhan, the director of BPIA, said the AAI has given its “go-ahead” to the memorial as a tribute to the iconic leader.

“The Dakota aircraft will be placed at the memorial for public viewing,” he said.

Patnaik used the aircraft to rescue Indonesia’s then Prime Minister Sutan Sjahrir and then Vice-President Mohammad Hatta during a period of turmoil in that country in April 1947.

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A grateful Indonesia had twice decorated Patnaik with its highest civilian honour, Bhumiputra, for the feat.

Patnaik, father of Odisha’s current CM Naveen Patnaik, was also a member of the Royal Indian Air Force under the British rule.

(With agency inputs)

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