Arunachal helicopter crash: ‘Flying coffins’ run on MHA subsidy

  • Rahul Karmakar, Hindustan Times, Guwahati
  • Updated: Aug 13, 2015 02:27 IST
Search and rescue teams found the bodies of people aboard the Pawan Hans chopper that crashed last week, on Wednesday. (PTI File Photo)

Charred, mangled remains of an IAS officer and the crew of the Pawan Hans helicopter that crashed in Arunachal Pradesh last Tuesday were recovered on Wednesday.

The recovery followed demands in the frontier state to scrap the helicopter service dubbed “flying coffins” that run on the home ministry’s subsidy.

“Security personnel retrieved lumps of the bodies that would be taken to Dibrugarh (Assam) for autopsy,” BM Mishra, the state’s civil aviation secretary, told HT from Itanagar.

Read: Wreckage of missing Pawan Hanshelicopter found in Arunachal

The ill-fated Dauphin VT-PHK operated by Pawan Hans Helicopters Ltd was carrying Tirap district deputy commissioner Kamlesh Kumar Joshi. The two pilots on board were BS Brar from Haryana and Rajeev Hoskote from Karnataka.

“The pilots’ kin have arrived to collect the remains,” said Dahey Sangno, a district officer.

A 2010-batch IAS officer, Joshi had joined as Tirap district head in June 2013. He was scheduled to attend a ministry of home affairs meeting in New Delhi. The MHA ironically provides 75% subsidy for the cost of operation of the helicopter service minus recovery from passengers. The state government takes care of the remaining 25%.

Unlike Pawan Hans, a PSU, private airlines are not eligible for the subsidy. Pawan Hans also operates in Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura, Mizoram and Sikkim on the same terms. Its license is renewed annually.

“Pawan Hans is synonymous with flying coffin in our state. We have asked the government to terminate the MoU with the PSU,” a spokesperson of All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union said.

Similar demands were made when the state’s chief minister Dorjee Khandu died in crash in 2011. That year, 17 passengers also died in a crash in Tawang.

Meanwhile, Arunachal Pradesh and Pawan Hans officials said the cause of the Tirap crash was being probed.

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