Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri on Monday, August 10, countered questions raised by Congress MPs over the Kozhikode airport safety in the wake of the Air India plane crash which killed as many as 18 people.

Puri, in a series of tweets, asserted that the individuals commenting on the Kozhikode tragedy need to get their facts right as Karipur airport is equipped with Runway End Safety Area (RESA), as per the guidelines of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Hardeep Singh Puri, Union Civil Aviation Minster
Hardeep Singh Puri, Union Civil Aviation MinsterReuters

"There was some exciting tweeting for the sake of media attention by a few members of Congress Party without fully being aware of the facts. These not just bordered on the irresponsible but were perhaps deliberately designed to be mischievous," the Union Minister wrote.

Calling out Ludhiana MP of Congress Ravneet Singh Bittu, Puri said that he did not know the difference between a narrow-body aircraft and a wide-bodied one but tweeted as an aviation expert.

Bittu had taken to Twitter to allege that "Hardeep Singh Puri removed the ban on wide-body aircraft's landing at Kozhikode airport in July 2019 and it led to such a fatal crash". He, however, removed his tweet later.

The Air India Express plane that crash-landed on Friday night was a B737, a narrow-body aircraft.

Air India plane crash
Air India Express plane skidded during landing at Karipur Airport

Aviation Ministry adhered to ICAO guidelines: Puri

Puri also hit out at Congress MP Manickam Tagore who stated that the Aviation Ministry ignored ICAO's advise of installing Engineered Material Arrestor System (EMAS) at Kozhikode airport.

"Kozhikode airport is equipped with RESA as per ICAO guidelines on safety. EMAS provides safety benefit if less than standard RESA length is available or at Airports where RESA cannot be provided due to constraints," said Puri, adding that provision of EMAS is not mandatory in a civil aerodrome.

Tagore had also claimed that Puri did not visit the accident site to take stock of the situation. Correcting him, Puri said, "Tagore stands out with his astounding lack of awareness. For starters, he wanted me to go to Kozhikode when I was already on my way. Visits of ministers should be timed in a way that they do not hamper relief and rescue operations by professional agencies."

The ill-fated Air India Express flight from Dubai to Kozhikode carrying 190 people skidded off the tabletop runway during landing at Kozhikode airport. The aircraft fell into a valley 35 feet below and broke into two.