MP under water, govt plans to buy another aircraft | bhopal | Hindustan Times
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MP under water, govt plans to buy another aircraft

The cash-strapped Madhya Pradesh government, which is battling unprecedented floods following a long spell of drought in the state, is planning to add another aircraft to its fleet to ensure smooth travel of the VVIPs.

bhopal Updated: Aug 23, 2016 13:00 IST
Madhya Pradesh is battling unprecedented floods following a long spell of drought in the state.
Madhya Pradesh is battling unprecedented floods following a long spell of drought in the state.(Praveen Bajpai/ HT photo)

The cash-strapped Madhya Pradesh government, which is battling unprecedented floods following a long spell of drought in the state, is planning to add another aircraft to its fleet to ensure smooth travel of the VVIPs.

The state’s Directorate of Aviation floated an online tender on August 20 to wet lease a twin-engine turbo jet plane. The tender will close on September 19.

Under the wet lease agreement, the bidder provides crew, maintenance and other services needed for the aircraft.

The state aviation department already has one Super King B 200 aircraft, which is often used by chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The fleet also includes three helicopters – Bell 407, Bell 430 and EC 155 models.

“In fact, the government wanted to purchase a factory new, mid-size, twin-engine turbo jet aircraft,” said Anant Sethi, director of MP’s Aviation department.

The tender to purchase the new aircraft was floated in the month of May. Of the two bidders to supply the aircraft, none cleared the technical bid stage. “We are now waiting for further orders from the government on purchase of the factory new aircraft,” Sethi said.

But there seems to be no taker for the government’s Bell 430 helicopter. In April, the Directorate of Aviation had floated a tender for its sale and set Rs 10 crore as the off-set price for the helicopter and its available parts. A fresh tender was floated on July 22 for the helicopter’s sale, and the last date to submit the online bid is September 13.

JP Dhanopia, the state Congress spokesperson, said the BJP government should have been ashamed of spending on more aircraft.

“When the state is reeling under a financial burden of over Rs 1,75,000 crore, adding another aircraft to the state’s aviation fleet is a serious issue,” Dhanopia said, adding that the government should try and refurbish its older aircraft and make them air-worthy and safe.

Narottam Mishra, the official spokesperson of the state government, refused to comment on the issue. Interestingly, the state government has not engaged any of its helicopters in rescue operations in the flood-hit areas. Rather, IAF helicopters were seen dropping food packets on Saturday in Rewa district.

Even chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who rushed to Satna to oversee rescue operations, had to take a train as there was no operational landing strip in the area.