CM's heli-hopping bill: Rs 9 cr

CM's heli-hopping bill: Rs 9 cr

After a months austerity, DVS follows in Yeddyurappas footsteps

The opportunity and the convenience of using helicopters has become too much for Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda to ignore.

Despite having announced that he would avoid using helicopters for his official tours, Gowda has continued to use them and chartered aircraft in the last eight months, expending a staggering Rs nine crore.

As per information obtained from the PWD under the Right to Information Act by Deccan Herald, the Chief Minister has used helicopter services on 62 seperate occasions to travel within and outside the State between August 2011 and March 2012. In total, these flights have cost the State Rs 7.84 crore. In addition, he has used chartereded flight service 17 times, spending Rs 1.22 crore.

On an average, Gowda has spent over Rs one crore per month for helicopter and chartereded aircraft services alone. In this regard, Gowda follows in the footsteps of his predecessor, Yeddyurappa. Ex-chief minister Yeddyurappa too was a frequent user of helicopters and spent a similar average of Rs one crore each month on flights. Gowda too has enlisted the services of the same air company which catered to Yeddyurappa, OSS Air Management Pvt Ltd. After assuming office in August 2011, Gowda had publicly stated an intention to avoid helicopter in favour of trains and road travel. As per records, this promise was kept for a month. Currently, the government hires helicopters on a lease-basis from private aviation companies.

During Yeddyurappa’s tenure as chief minister, the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms had even tendered a proposal to purchase a helicopter. The plan was dropped only after it was found that maintenance of such an aircraft would be too difficult. Previous experience has showed the State government’s difficulty in maintaining aircraft. Two years ago, a fleet of two helicopters, a Chetak and a more-modern Eurocopter Dauphin N-3, weregrounded due to lack of spares and pilots, forcing the government to sell them at throwaway prices.

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