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Post army objection, Uttarakhand officials look for land to set up helipad for VIPs

The move comes days after the army establishment allegedly obstructed the landing of a helicopter carrying chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat at the cantonment area helipad.

dehradun Updated: Mar 08, 2018 21:36 IST
Deep Joshi
Deep Joshi
Hindustan Times
The state government earlier alleged that the army establishment had obstructed the landing of the CM’s helicopter at cantonment helipad on February 18.(HT Photo)

The Uttarakhand government is looking for land in Dehradun to set up a new helipad to cater to the VIPs. The move comes days after the army establishment allegedly obstructed the landing of a helicopter carrying chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat at the cantonment area helipad.

“A committee has been constituted to explore the feasibility of a helipad near residences of the chief minister and the governor,” said principal secretary, home, Anand Vardhan. The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by him to review the security of VIPs including the CM, the governor and that of the secretariat here on Wednesday.

The government had earlier alleged that the army establishment had obstructed the landing of the CM’s helicopter at cantonment helipad on February 18. It had also accused the General Officer Commanding (GOC), Uttarakhand sub area, of misbehaving with the CM’s security staff and jeopardizing his security. A miffed Rawat, his personal staff said, even lodged a complaint against the GOC with the army brass.

According to reports, the army raised objections as the frequent use of its helipad by VIPs was hampering the defence force’s routine activities. As the controversy left both sides red-faced, chief secretary Utpal Singh and army officials held a meeting to resolve the issue. While the minutes of the meeting were not available, officials said that the army’s view seems to have prevailed.

It is clear from the fact that the CM now uses the helipad on the premises of the Oil and Natural Gas Cooperation (ONGC), instead of the army helipad that is closer to the his official residence in the cantonment area.

An official familiar with the development said a portion of the land belonging to the horticulture department could be identified for setting up the proposed helipad. “It would be an ideal location considering that the area, besides being spacious, is also adjacent to residences of the chief minister and the governor,” the official said.

Vardhan said helipad was one of “several issues” concerning the CM and the governor’s security that were reviewed at the meeting. “Issues relating to security of the fleet of CM’s official cars and the security staff etc were discussed at the meeting,” he added. “A proposal for setting up night vision cameras at the official residences of the CM and the governor was also discussed.”

Officials of more than a dozen departments, including the department of civil aviation, attended the review meeting, which was called in the wake of an internal review, which revealed “gaping holes” in the security at the CM’s official residence. Some 50% of the total 30 CCTV cameras put up at the residence spread over a 4.75 hectares area were found dysfunctional.

First Published: Mar 08, 2018 21:36 IST