Meghalaya governor’s chopper trips cost Rs.1.37 crore

March 14th, 2011 - 5:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Shillong, March 14 (IANS) Helicopter sorties by Meghalaya Governor R.S. Mooshahary within Meghalaya and to Assam over two years cost the taxpayer over Rs.1.37 crore, official documents reveal.

Response to a Right to Information (RTI) query filed by Shillong journalist E.M. Jose said Mooshahary made 132 helicopter trips from 2008 to 2010.

The trips cost of the exchequer Rs.1,37,09, 458.

Mooshahary, who took charge as governor on July 1, 2008, is a former chief of India’s elite National Security Guards.

He chartered a Pawan Hans helicopter 89 times to visit his hometown Beltola in Assam, 94 km from the Meghalaya capital Shillong.

As per the RTI findings, the governor also flew to various areas in Assam like Guwahati, Lakhimpur, Diphu, Tezpur and Dispur.

Other sorties were to Sohra (Cherrapunjee), Mawlynnong, Bholaganj, Jowai and elsewhere in Meghalaya.

Unlike the governor, Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma chartered a helicopter only once to visit Langpih in May last year after four people were killed in police firing.

The chief minister also preferred to use his car to travel from Shillong to Guwahati, a journey of less than three hours by road.

Transport department officials said helicopter service was introduced with a view to give air connectivity and help the general public to travel at a very nominal rate.

A person has to pay Rs.1,700 per trip from Shillong to Tura town and vice versa.

A trip from Tura to Assam’s Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in Guwahati costs Rs.1,500, while the journey between Guwahati and Shillong costs Rs.1,200.

The governor was criticised when he flew to Jowai town in eastern Meghalaya to inaugurate the ‘Discover Jaintia Tourism Festival’ Dec 7, 2009.

Not only did Mooshahary charter a helicopter for the trip, even his official car was driven from Shillong to take him to the event venue from the helipad, a distance of just two kilometers.

IANS could not contact the governor. But his secretary P. Shakil Ahammed said all the trips were taken due to “official work”.

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