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Maharashtra approves helipad policy for choppers flying VVIPs

Each tehsil set to have helipads; baggage to be restricted

mumbai Updated: Jan 21, 2018 00:25 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Surendra P Gangan
Hindustan Times
Maharashtra,VVIPs,helipad policy
CM’s chopper crash-landed in Latur in May 2017(HT File)

After the chief minister’s chopper malfunctioned five times in past nine months, the state has finalised a stringent helipad policy for choppers meant to fly VVIPs. The policy has mandated designated areas for helipads in each tehsil, restricted the amount of baggage that can be carried, and also clearly defined responsibilities at each level to ensure protocol and safety. The VVIPs include the governor,chief minister, and ministers who use state-owned or hired aircrafts.

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis cleared the helipad policy for VVIPs two days ago. Based on the guidelines outlined by the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), New Delhi, the policy has made rules related to helipads more stringent. In most of the incidents related to the CM’s chopper, helipads and their locations had been the major fault.

The policy has made it compulsory for the district collectors to identify and earmark a safe space for a temporary helipad of not less than 250metres by 50metres. The policy directs that helipads be set up on school or police training grounds, and the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation’s industrial areas. Once such places are identified, the helipads for flying VVIPs would not be allowed at any other place.

The policy has also put restrictions on the total baggage that can be carried, reducing it to a ‘reasonable weight’. It also states that the rotors and air conditioning system cannot be turned on before the VVIP enters the chopper. According to officials, VVIPs often carry heavy baggage comprising files and other material, and sometimes insist on carrying additional passengers.

“In two of the incidents related to the CM’s chopper, these were some of the issues that created problems. Hence, these norms were added to the policy,” an official from Mantralaya said on the condition of anonymity. “Many a times, temporary helipads are constructed on the insistence of the local politicians, who host programs attended by VVIPs, flouting the norms.”

“There are DGCA guidelines about helipads meant for VVIPs, but the policy has put it in simpler terms so that it can be understood by officials of all levels. Once the location of the helipad is finalised, the district administration will have to ensure its incorporation in the regional or development plan, to avoid restricting activities like construction of buildings around it,” said another official.

Valsa Nair Singh, principle secretary, general administration department, said, “The policy has been cleared, and the administration will have to strictly implement it while flying VVIPs.”

First Published: Jan 21, 2018 00:25 IST