Report slams high-flying military first wives
The first ladies of the army, air force and navy have gatecrashed into an exclusive club of VIPs entitled to fly in the Indian Air Force’s aircraft, reports Rahul Singh.delhi Updated: Feb 19, 2009 14:04 IST
The first ladies of the army, air force and navy have gatecrashed into an exclusive club of VIPs entitled to fly in the Indian Air Force’s aircraft.
A Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report tabled in Parliament on Wednesday has revealed that the wives of the service chiefs are misusing the IAF’s VIP aircraft fleet.
It points out that presidents of AWWA (Army Wives Welfare Association) and AFWWA (Air Force Wives’ Welfare Association) were not even covered under the category of persons entitled to use the VIP aircraft. The defence ministry has been told to conduct a probe and submit a report in three months.
The IAF has modified eight aircraft for VIP role without government approval despite having a separate Communications squadron for VIP use.
It consists of two Boeing 737s, three Boeing business jets, five Embraer luxury jets, seven Avros and six helicopters. The fleet is primarily meant for the President, Vice-President and PM.
The PAC report revealed that the modified aircraft were utilised predominantly by senior officers, AWWA and AFWWA presidents and their accompanying staff. This bled the state exchequer of Rs 75 crore. The committee has asked the defence ministry to furnish the expenditure incurred on flying non-entitled passengers over the last 10 years.
Sources in the IAF defended the first ladies saying they had only accompanied the service chiefs and never made exclusive use of VIP aircraft. “No additional costs were incurred on these flights,” said a senior officer, not wishing to be named.