Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Editorial, 'FLYING COFFINS' in 15 September 2009, Vol. 5, Part 2, No. 17, issue of LAW ANIMATED WORLD


“We design, build, and support the most proven, most reliable, and best performing aircraft in the world” – is the boastful claim of the manufacturers of Bell 430 helicopters; but two of those crashed in the jungles of Dandaka and Nallamala in recent 3-4 months, the latter taking the lives of a popular chief minister and four others on board. And noting the famous saying: "there are lies, damned lies and statistics," of Mark Twain, and with due deference to him, it was also claimed that the Bell Jet Ranger has been ‘statistically proven to be the safest aircraft ever built!’, yet it was a Bell 206 Jet Ranger helicopter crash that took the life of former Speaker Balayogi in 2002. Because the dead in these crashes are high profile figures wide attention and publicity has been received but what about the innumerable MIG (military) and other aircraft crashes in which hundreds of precious lives of pilots and passengers were lost over the recent 2-3 decades? So much so that India is said to hold the world record for air crashes with the number far exceeding 500 by now. Why is it that we always go shopping abroad spending/wasting billions of dollars on such potential ‘flying coffins’ but not yet self-reliant to manufacture safer planes attuned to our geo-climatic conditions? And when shall our bureaucrats awaken to their minimum duties and do their jobs for which they are paid hefty salaries and perks with the minimum sincerity and honesty at least? How could a helicopter be allowed to fly in the first instance when all of us knew and were experiencing heavy rains and densely cloudy skies in the first week of September 2009 and once it took off how could it be left in the lurch without provision of crucial air traffic controlling. Criminal negligence of scores of culpable officials takes away five precious lives and in addition causes crores of public moneys wasted in search operations and nobody is booked till date and not a single head rolls – not a single responsible official dismissed, or himself graciously exited. Oh all this can happen only in India. When shall we be able to overcome all this rut?