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Rajesh Ahuja , Hindustan Times
New Delhi, December 17, 2012
Delhiites may soon have to deal with fewer traffic jams due to VVIP movement. India’s security establishment is pursuing a proposal to construct a helipad in the sprawling Rashtrapati Bhavan, which will cater to President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and visiting foreign dignitaries.

“A helipad at Rashtrapati Bhavan will help deal with frequent traffic jams that occur due to VVIP movements in Delhi. The helipad will be handled by the air force,” said an official, requesting anonymity.

According to sources, the helipad will require cooperation from the President’s Secretariat, air force, Special Protection Group and Delhi Police as well as an environmental clearance.

“A proposal has been there for some time. Surveys have taken place and a particular place has been chosen. Its longitude and latitude are being looked into,” said a source.

The chopper flight between Rashtrapati Bhavan and the Palam technical area, from where VVIPs usually take a flight, will take around 10 minutes. Once the helipad becomes operational, they can also take short-distance chopper flights to areas around Delhi rather than going to the airport first.

The security establishment is also keen on a chopper landing facility near Rajghat, the memorial to Mahatma Gandhi that is frequented by Indian and foreign VVIPs, often leading to traffic jams.

Apart from preventing traffic chaos, the security establishment also feels a chopper flight is safer for VVIPs than movement by road. “No proposal has come to us so far. We will consider it when it does,” said a senior Delhi Police official.