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High operational costs ground Games heliport

It was expected to be one of the most visible symbols of Delhi's transformation into a world-class city during the Commonwealth Games. The city's first heliport, however, has been waiting for days for some action.

delhi Updated: Oct 12, 2010 00:51 IST
Sidhartha Roy

It was expected to be one of the most visible symbols of Delhi's transformation into a world-class city during the Commonwealth Games. The city's first heliport, however, has been waiting for days for some action.

Delhi's first and the country's second heliport has been built over 25 acres in northwest Delhi's Rohini area by Pawan Hans Helicopters Limited (PHHL), a public undertaking.

While the heliport in Rohini was to be used as a base, two temporary helipads were built near the Games Village. There were plans to use the heliport and the helipads for ferrying athletes and delegates from the Village to other sporting venues spread across the Capital. That, however, hasn't happened. Instead Games lanes were reserved for them on city roads.

The first time helicopters were used for the Games was on Sunday for aerial coverage of the cycling event. Apart from this, there have also been a few sorties by the security agencies such as the Delhi Police.

"Though both the heliport and helipads are frugal, basic structures at present, they were built within time before the Games began. These are, however, not used at all and only a couple of helicopters are stationed at the heliport," said a senior PHHL official who didn't wish to be named.

The main reason for the helicopter services not being used is the high cost of operations. The cost of flying a helicopter for one hour is more than

R1 lakh. It is way more cheap to just reserve a lane.

"The helipads near the Games Village are temporary but we hope the heliport will see more action in future," the official said. "More facilities will be added at the heliport as demand for helicopter services increase."

RK Tyagi, PHHL chairman and managing director couldn't be contacted over the phone for comments.