AP Police's demand for helicopter still to be accepted

AP Police's demand for helicopter still to be accepted

It was at the height of the Naxal movement in the state in the 1990s that the police first came up with the proposal for buying a helicopter. The elite anti-Maoist force – Greyhounds – was supposed to use the chopper in its operations, especially in forest and remote areas, for movement and evacuation of personnel.

Director General of Police K Aravinda Rao said the request for procurement of a helicopter was "still pending" with the government. The flying machine would be very effective in averting landmine traps and other ambush methods used by Maoists, he said.

"We are managing without that (chopper). A proposal would be sent again to the government in this regard," the DGP told PTI.

"There is some delay in procuring...we have been repeatedly reminding (the government)," he added. Naxal-hit Chhattisgarh is the only state that has an exclusive helicopter for use by the police.

"Now that the Maoist menace in the state has reduced tremendously, the Government may not show interest in purchasing the chopper, but its need still exists," a top police official said.

"Take for instance the 2008 Balimela incident where about 38 of our Greyhounds personnel were killed in a Maoist attack in a reservoir. Had a chopper been available, the incident could have been averted," pointed out the official who has been involved in several anti-Naxal operations.

The state-run AP Aviation Corp owned two helicopters – a Bell 430 and a Agusta Westland-139. The Bell was destroyed in a crash in the Nallamala forest killing Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy on September 2, 2009. The AW-139 is used for ferrying the Chief Minister.

"It is in rarest of the occasions that we get to use the State Government chopper and that too if there is no VIP movement," the police official said. The police are keen on a troop carrier helicopter that can ferry 25-30 persons in an emergency.

"We want a big chopper so that we can drop our forces wherever we want and pick them up from the interiors of forest or agency (tribal) areas," the official said.