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Uttarakhand govt plans to buy new chopper for governor, CM

Uttarakhand governor and chief minister will be seen flying in a new helicopter soon.

dehradun Updated: Jun 09, 2018 21:32 IST
Uttarakhand News
Chief minister TS Rawat usually boards the state plane (in background) for long distances.(HT File)

Uttarakhand governor and chief minister will be seen flying in a new helicopter soon. The Uttarakhand Civil Aviation Development Authority (UCADA) has decided to dispose of the only state plane, which has become a burden on the state treasury due to its landing restrictions and costly maintenance, and buy a new helicopter.

“There were restrictions with the state plane as it could land only in Pantnagar and Pithoragarh (in state). So, we will be buying a new helicopter so that it could be taken to all destinations,” said Om Prakash, additional chief secretary, civil aviation. The decision was taken a meeting with the CM recently.

The double engine state plane, currently being used to fly chief minister and governor, flies only 4-5 days in a month due to its landing limitations, though the government spends Rs 3 crore annually on its maintenance. Its maintenance includes pilot’s salary, overhauling and other expenses.

According to officials familiar with the matter, the plane, which was bought 10 years ago for Rs 50 -100 crore, can be sold for Rs 15 crore. A new helicopter would cost Rs 50 -100 crore.

Prakash said the helicopter will solve the problem of landing restrictions and can be taken to all places in the state including Char Dhams — Kedarnath, Badrinath, Yamunotri and Gangotri. “Helicopter will be an advantage for the government as its accessibility is more,” he added.

The BJP government in Uttarakhand had spent nearly Rs 6 crore on flying chief minister and other VIPs to various locations in just over 11 months, an RTI reply had earlier revealed. The Congress had then slammed the government alleging fiscal mismanagement.

According to the information obtained by RTI activist Hemant Singh Goniyo, the chief minister had made 93 air trips, including 47 by the state-owned aeroplane and 45 by the state-owned chopper. The information was provided by UCADA, a state government nodal agency that arranges copters and planes for the VIPs. The agency, however, did not specify the amount spent on arranging rides for Rawat.

UCADA has at its disposal two flying machines — an airplane and a helicopter. The rides are mostly arranged as per the orders from the chief minister office. However, the UCADA also arranges copters from private operators for the VIPs. The authority has an arrangement with at least five private operators.

First Published: Jun 09, 2018 21:31 IST