Kerala govt's helicopter plans hit rough weather

Representative image from AFP

A move by Kerala government to hire a helicopter for anti-Naxal operations and VIP movements has triggered a row as the state is facing acute financial crunches.

The government decided to sign an agreement with Pawan Hans Limited for hiring a twin-engine 11-seater helicopter at a monthly rent of Rs. 1.44 crore for 20 hours flying and around Rs. 67,900 for every additional hour.

However, the Opposition Congress-led United Democratic Front strongly opposed it citing that the decision came at a time when the state was facing acute financial crunches and even restrictions imposed on the exchequer. Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala alleged of vested interests behind the move to hire a helicopter.

The suspicions over the move strengthened further with another aviation firm maintaining that they offered helicopter at much lower rates and also that the rates at which the Kerala government plans to hire helicopter were much higher than the rates at which some other states were hiring choppers.

Even as government officials were maintaining that the decision to hire a helicopter from Pawan Hans was taken as it was public sector undertaking, in the wake of the allegations the government may reexamine the move, said government sources.

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