The Telegraph
Wednesday , January 1 , 2014
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Perfect landing (or stunt) but a nice metaphor for New Year

A four-seater Cessna amphibious plane landed on National Highway 69 in Betul, Madhya Pradesh, in rough weather on Tuesday morning after traffic was brought to a halt. The Cessna 172, owned by NRI businessman Sam Verma who is now in Betul, touched down safely and pulled up yards from rows of parked trucks. “When the pilot told me about the difficulty in landing, I asked him to look for some water body (the nearby Sapna Dam) but the district administration had some reservations. I then told him to land on the highway,” Verma, 71, who was not on the plane, said. He claimed that he got in touch with local police, who blocked traffic on the four-lane highway that links Nagpur to Obaidullahgunj, near Bhopal. The plane landed at a spot about 600 metres from Verma’s private airstrip and was parked there till on Tuesday night. Betul residents and district officials suggested Verma might be using the incident as a “ploy” to stop the construction of pillars near his airstrip and factory. Verma had told the local media the construction of the pillars was causing him difficulty in landing. “Now I have left my plane on the highway in protest,” he said. There was utter confusion and a traffic jam for about an hour till the police diverted the traffic to alternative routes. Verma said he wanted to resolve the matter with the highway authority before the plane was removed from NH69. Betul collector R.P. Mishra said the civil aviation department and the local air traffic control would be served with a notice to explain why the plane was allowed to land on a national highway. Mishra said he would ascertain from the directorate-general of civil aviation, Mumbai, if an emergency landing was needed. (PTI pictures)