Officials trash Swamy’s charges on Balwa using Deesa airstrip

Even as Janata Party chief Subramaniam Swamy has alleged that 2G scam accused Shahid Balwa illegally used the Deesa airstrip near Palanpur in Banaskantha district of Gujarat to fly politicians belonging to ruling and opposition parties to Dubai, Airports Authority of India as well as state civil aviation officials have denied the allegations.

Balwa hails from Pirojpura village in Vadgam taluka of Banaskantha district.

Anuj Agarwal, director at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport here, said he had got the matter enquired into some time ago on a query from the central government but it was found that the airstrip was not useable at all. "Inquiries revealed that the airstrip has not been used in the last two years by any one," said Agarwal.

He said that even an aircraft carrying the state Governor was not allowed to land at Deesa airstrip in November 2010 because of the bad condition of the airstrip. It was only fit for para-gliding, he added.

Agarwal said there was no record if the air strip had been used by Balwa two years ago.

State Civil Aviation director Ajay Chauhan said that landing and take-off for an aircraft was not possible as the airstrip was not serviceable at all. He said the Deesa airstrip was very small and used for training purposes only.

Banaskantha district collector R J Patel too rubbished the allegations, saying an inquiry showed there was no truth into the allegations.

However, talati (a village-level government official) of Pirojpura village, Jassabhai V Uplana, said that Balwa had landed in the village in a private helicopter last year.

According to Uplana, Balwa and his family members are frequent visitors as they run a number of welfare activities in their village, which has a population of over 5,000.

Uplana said that the Balwa Charitable Trust run by Shahid Balwa and his family had installed a tubewell and constructed an overhead water tank of 50,000-litre capacity for supplying free drinking water to the entire population.

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