An Airbus A-320 riding atop what is reported to be a 100-wheel trailer brought traffic to a halt on the GT Karnal Road on Saturday, leading to a jam almost 50-km-long.
The owner of the aircraft, Pitampura-based property dealer Rakesh Dikshit (40), says he had bought it as scrap in an Air India auction almost two months ago. The airplane, says Dikshit, cost him Rs 18 lakh.
The businessman has novel plans for his new purchase — he got the possession on Friday. A devotee of Shirdi Sai Baba, Dikshit wants to station the aircraft shell in Alipur and convert it into a museum of Shirdi Sai Baba.
What Dikshit did not factor in was the transportation of the airplane, whose wings and tail have been clipped off and seats and baggage space have been removed.
“I don’t know much about planes. This is the first I bought and its name is A-320. I was transporting it today in a big open truck, which has as many as 100 tyres. The trailer could not turn at the Alipur crossing, just before the Kondli border. So the traffic got stuck,” Dikshit told Newsline over the phone.
He says he was then informed that he “could not transport something so big before midnight”.
The Delhi Traffic Police said the pile-up was reported around noon. “This man was allegedly bringing the scrap plane from the airport and it got stuck at a turn just beyond the Palla Mor. He was prosecuted for dangerous driving and asked to resume transportation at a lean (traffic) period,” said Satyendra Garg, Joint CP (Traffic).
DCP (Outer) B S Jaiswal told Newsline there was no law and order situation, “only a lot of curiosity, which led to a long traffic jam”.
“The initial rumours were that a plane has crash landed in that area. People are just interested in looking at a plane, nothing else,” said Jaiswal.
Till late evening, the aircraft was parked by the Alipur road.
Dikshit says he plans to have a museum “as grand as the temple in Shirdi” for Sai Baba. “I will have idols, pictures, literature, utensils and all the things used by Sai Baba,” he says.
He has thought out all the details. “There is a Sai Baba temple in Alipur. The land is of Sai Baba Trust, and the trust is mine. Why should anyone stop me from keeping this plane, which I bought as scrap, on my own land? Or do what I wish to do with it? I have as much as 2,100 square yards to keep the plane and make my museum,” he says.
An Air India spokesperson said auctions are held of aircraft older than 20 years and out-of-use. “We auction parts that are of no use. If there is anything that can be taken out or used, it is. What is auctioned as scrap is just the outer shell,” he said.
Another AI official said there are at least nine “scrap” aircraft of the airline at the hangars of IGI Airport. “We give out two types of contracts — garbage and scrap. This was scrap,” the official said.