Dhumal flies high on Congress MP’s chopper

May 5th, 2011 - 2:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Shimla, May 5 (IANS) He usually prefers travelling by road, but when he had to fly to some remote, inaccessible area and his chopper was not available, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal requested Congress MP from Haryana Naveen Jindal to lend his personal chopper for a day.

“Since my visit was in a very remote area (of Sirmaur) and my official (single-engine) chopper was not available, I personally requested Jindal (on Wednesday) to provide me a chopper for a day,” Dhumal told IANS on reaching here from Haripurdhar in Sirmaur.

Jindal’s personal helicopter was a twin-engined AgustaWestland AW139.

Asked whether the state was willing to go in for a twin-engine chopper as Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu recently lost his life in a single-engine chopper crash, Dhumal said the cost factor was a consideration.

The government was earlier using Jagson Airlines’ 26-seater chopper for the travelling purposes of VIPs, but there has been some dispute between the company and the government since last two months and Jagson has refused to provide its services.

“We have issued a notice to the company. We are even going to re-invite tenders for hiring a new one,” Dhumal said.

Ajay Bhandari, secretary of the General Administration Department, the department that arranges helicopters for the VIPs, said hiring a twin-engine chopper is quite expensive.

“We were paying Rs.132,000 per hour to Jagson for a single-engine chopper. If we go for a double-engine, then we have to shell out Rs.190,000 for an hour. It’s quite an expensive affair. Moreover, the double-engine machines are not readily available with the charter companies,” he added.

He said after the death of the then Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy in a helicopter crash in 2009, the central government had issued guidelines to all the states regarding the use of double-engine choppers.

Then Punjab governor Surendra Nath, and 12 others, including nine of his family, were killed July 9, 1994 when a state government plane crashed in a mountainous region of Himachal Pradesh, minutes after taking off.

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