Thursday, October 11, 2007

Probe into chopper misuse


Ranchi, Oct. 10: The (mis-) use of police modernisation fund for VIP comfort has once again come under the scanner of the accountant general (AG) (audit).

According to sources, the AG has sought documents from the state government as how could it use the chopper, meant for air surveillance and airshifting the injured policemen, could fly the ministers and bureaucrats.

According to sources, the AG was surprised over the fact that the VIP seats were put in place instead of “back-to-back” seats in the chopper purchased to launch the anti-Naxalite operation. Interestingly, sources said the chopper flied for some 33-34 hours within a span of a fortnight only after it landed here on August 30.

For example, it virtually doubled up a taxi to ferry the ministers and bureaucrats on September 12 to Khunti where they had gone to inaugurate it as a new district. It had made around half a dozen sorties. Earlier, the public fund monitor had made strong objections to the purchase of swanky vehicles for the ministers and senior police officers worth Rs 15 crore from the police modernisation fund.

The state government is yet to meet the objections. A civil aviation department official, however, said that a standard procedure regulation has been framed by which no minister could use it. The chief minister could use it because he also happens to be the chief minister.

He also said that the home department is coming out with an advertisement to appoint police pilots very soon. Besides, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) would be providing the ground staff. Home secretary Sudhir Tripathy said that it was correct that the VIP sitting arrangement, instead of troop configuration, is there. “But we will put it to the anti-Naxalite use once we get manpower trained. We are in a process to register it with the directorate general of civil aviation,” he said.

The home secretary also said that the HAL too had used the chopper before handing it over to us. The red and yellow coloured spacious flying machine has the capacity for nine passengers plus the two seats for pilot and co-pilot. The first police chopper manufactured by the HAL is equipped with gadgets and the bullet-proof belly used for the Indian Air Force choppers.

The chief minister’s office (CMO) is flooded with the requests of the ministers to provide the chopper available to them to do, invariably to attend private and political functions. Also, the CMO could not deny them the privilege as it might attract their ire and even put the Madhu Koda government in danger.

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