‘Odisha VIPs used chopper meant for anti-Naxal action’

first_imgA helicopter meant for anti-Naxalite operations was grossly misused by Ministers and VIPs in Odisha, reveals the latest report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).The CAG pointed out that the helicopter hired by the State government for anti-Maoist operations had flown Ministers and officials in 84% of its total sorties.Need-based hiringAs per the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) guidelines and instructions, the Union government had permitted need-based hiring of private helicopters at competitive rates with prior approval.Such helicopters were to be used for dropping ration and ammunitions to security personnel in inaccessible pockets, and movement and evacuation of injured security personnel in anti-Naxalite operations.According to the CAG, the State government had signed an agreement with Pawan Hans Helicopters Limited (PHHL) for hiring one 28-seater MI-172 helicopter in 2011, without the prior approval of the Centre. The helicopter was provided by PHHL up to January 2013 and, thereafter, it went out of order.In its place, PHHL had provided one 8-seater Dauphin helicopter. “Between February 2013 and September 2015, 341 sorties were conducted and, out of these, it [the helicopter] was used for dropping ration and shifting of injured security personnel only in 53 sorties (16%).In the remaining sorties, it was used by various officers and Ministers for surveillance and monitoring, which was not allowed under the SRE scheme guidelines,” the apex audit agency says.The frequency of operations also decreased, the CAG finds — when the MI-172 helicopter was deployed in 2012-13 and from October 2015 to June 2016, it conducted 343 sorties mainly for evacuation, rotating forces, dropping ration, and shifting injured personnel.Extra expenditureMoreover, extra expenditure to the tune of ₹11.89 lakh per flying day was made, as the helicopter had Bhubaneswar as its base instead of Koraput, which is closer to areas affected by Left-wing extremism.The audit body also reveals that in absence of a suitable helicopter, offensives against Naxals faced serious difficulties and large-scale anti-Naxal operations were kept on hold.last_img

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