Friday, July 17, 2009

Twin choppers for rebel patrol

AMIT GUPTA

In resscue act
Ranchi, July 17: Jharkhand will get the services of two helicopters, preferably Dhruv, from the Union ministry of home affairs (MHA) for anti-Naxalite surveillance and rescue operations.

Home secretary J.B. Tubid told The Telegraph that the state could expect the services by the end of this month. “There will be no problem for anti-rebel operations in the future,” Tubid added.

Sources said that the helicopters would be stationed at Ranchi airport and used exclusively for policing. The MHA will arrange things from the security-related expenditure (SRE) fund.

Meanwhile, Governor Syed Sibtey Razi has decided to bestow the administrative control of the state’s lone Dhruv to the civil aviation department.

Born in a workshop of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Dhruv was purchased under the police modernisation fund by the state home department in 2007. But since then the chopper has been used more for ferrying VIPs than for surveillance in rebel pockets.“The Dhruv will no longer be looked after by our department. It will be the civil aviation department that will operate and maintain the armoured chopper,” the home secretary said.

However, voices of discontent were heard over the state’s decision to hand over the administrative control of Dhruv to the civil aviation department.

“The Dhruv was purchased by the home department under the police modernisation fund for a whopping Rs 30 crore. But over these years, either the civil aviation department or the chief minister’s office held control of the chopper for ferrying VIPs,” a police officer of inspector-general rank said, not willing to be named.

Home department sources said peeved over past arrangements, senior officials had suggested that the administrative affairs of Dhruv be either fully controlled by the home department or civil aviation department. The governor, finally, preferred the second option.

Although Dhruv is grounded since September 2008 in the wake of suspension of licences of its pilots by DGCA, a Raj Bhavan official maintained that the decision to hand over control to the civil aviation department was unanimous. “If required, the Dhruv will be available for the state police too,” he maintained.

Sources said the powers that be had realised that giving the control of Dhruv to the police would restrict its use for anti-Naxalite operations and it would become a Herculean task to use the same for ferrying VIPs. Moreover, the standard operating procedure (SOP) for Dhruv is still eluding the state.

At present, the state avails of the services of Indian Air Force flights during emergencies

No comments: