Gurgaon: A small drone being used by the Air Force and the city’s civic administration to identify encroachments crashed inside the thickly populated 900-metre restricted area of the IAF ammunition depot on Saturday morning.
The drone crashed barely 90 metres away from the ammunition depot, in Palam Vihar Extension’s I-block, but the MCG insisted there was no cause for concern and it posed no risk to the depot.
“The exercise was being conducted under the supervision of the IAF and there was absolutely no cause of scare due to this incident,” MCG commissioner TL Satyaprakash, who is also the deputy commissioner of Gurgaon, told TOI.
But before the authorities could locate the crash site, a large crowd gathered on the spot, dismantled the drone and cleaned out its parts. Its high-resolution camera was gone too. However, a search team later recovered parts of the drone from them. The surveillance was being carried out by the IAF and the MCG to demarcate a 300-metre restricted area, in line with the Punjab and Haryana high court’s order, so that families squatting in that area can be relocated.
The process has been expedited after the deadly fire at Pulgaon’s Central Ammunition Depot this week, in which 18 people lost their lives.
Satyaprakash said the drone crashed around 7.30 am due to magnetic interference. “We started to use this drone from Friday since we wanted to find out how many new buildings have come up in the restricted area. This drone belongs to the district administration and prima facie the reason for the crash appears to be due to magnetic interference. We have sent the drone to a research centre to determine the exact cause of the crash,” he said.
The MCG chief, however, said the ongoing exercise to review the number of new structures within the 300-metre radius will continue as “we have a back-up drone”. “It is important to find out the total number of structures in the 300-metre area so that people living in this area can be relocated. The high court has directed us that all structures in 300-metre radius have to be demolished before the present restricted area of 900 metre can be reduced to 300 metres,” he added.
Residents of Palam Vihar said it was the first time they saw a drone in their area. “I was going to buy vegetables when I came across a search team consisting of IAF and MCG officials looking for the crashed drone. Since I am familiar with the area I took them to the location, but by that time the kids had started dismantling it. Fortunately it crashed in between two buildings in an open area and therefore did not cause any damage,” said Nilmani Thakur, a local resident.