Ombudsman for MPs travel complaints likely

 Amid criticism over preferential treatment for MPs at airports, the Civil Aviation Ministry is deliberating a policy to provide extra facilities for lawmakers and other VIPs in airports, including appointing an ombudsman for the sector.

Recently, a fresh missive from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had directed airports to adhere to the norms on special treatment to MPs triggered a controversy. The fresh letter to airlines came in early January amid debate over the VIP culture.

In a draft report, a panel headed by M Krishasswamy recorded the comments of Secretary K N Srivastava on a variety of issues related to the extension of privileges given to MPs at airports. A final report is likely to be tabled in Parliament on Tuesday.

As per the existing protocol, MPs have special privileges like access to reserved lounges, free parking, free access to terminal buildings and visitor’s gallery, besides others like being served complimentary tea, coffee and water.

The secretary is learnt to have told the panel that the airlines are providing a protocol officer and other facilities themselves.

He told the panel that they are formulating a new policy to streamline the entire system of extending due protocol to MPs.

The ministry is also deliberating the appointment of an ombudsman, which the secretary said would be an effective tool where issues like non-compliance of protocol directions could be dealt with.

The policy measures include setting up designated numbers, which will be given out to all VIPs, including MPs.

The MPs can inform the airport about their travel plans by calling these dedicated numbers and it will be the responsibility of the airport to make further arrangements.

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