In less than a year, Uttarakhand govt spends Rs 5.85 crore on helicopter rides - Hindustan Times

In less than a year, Uttarakhand govt spends Rs 5.85 crore on helicopter rides

Hindustan Times, Dehradun | By, Dehradun
Mar 01, 2018 09:05 PM IST

The information was obtained through a RTI query.

In just over 11 months, the BJP government in Uttarakhand has spent nearly Rs 6 crore on flying chief minister and other VIPs to various locations, an RTI reply has revealed.

Chief minister TS Rawat (centre) being received at the Lucknow airport.(HT File Photo)
Chief minister TS Rawat (centre) being received at the Lucknow airport.(HT File Photo)

The information comes days after another RTI reply revealed that the office of chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat spent well over Rs 68 lakh on tea and refreshments.

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A day ago, Opposition Congress slammed the government over fiscal mismanagement, accusing it of not paying the salaries to the staff despite taking a loan for the same.

As per the information obtained by RTI activist Hemant Singh Goniyo, CM Rawat made 93 air trips, including 47 by state-owned aeroplane, and 45 by state-owned chopper.

The information provided by Uttarakhand Civil Aviation Development Authority (UCADA) – a state government nodal agency that arranges copters and planes for the VIPs, however, did not specify the amount spent on arranging rides for the chief minister.

UCADA has at its disposal two flying machines — an airplane and a helicopter. The rides are mostly arranged as per the orders from the chief minister office. However, the UCADA also arranges copters from private operators for the VIPs. The authority has an arrangement with at least five private operators.

The RTI reply, dated February 5, further revealed that a sum of Rs 5.85 crore was paid to various private service providers for arranging copters for VIPs that include the chief minister, governor, ministers and other visiting big shots.

Interestingly, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was extremely critical of Harish Rawat when he was chief minister for “wasting money on choppers”. Earlier an RTI had revealed in 2016 that Congress government had spent Rs 3.5 crore on rides. The party even held a press conference in July 2016 highlighting the issue.

But now as there is a role reversal, BJP is playing it safe. Party spokesperson Virendra Bisht Wednesday justified the copter rides by the chief minister.

“Chief minister needs copters or planes to save time while travelling. Unlike Harish Rawat, chief minister Trivendraji taking meetings in every corner of the state reviewing works and therefore it (money paid by UCADA) is justified. Moreover, it is the same for other ministers as well,” Bisht said.

On the other hand, Congress said BJP always had double standards. “How come they justify something, which they had criticized earlier” asked Mathura Dutta Joshi, the party spokesperson.

The chief minister’s media coordinator, Darshan Rawat, meanwhile, said the air rides were necessary and justified for CM and VIPs.

The Rawat government was recently trolled on social media for spending “unnecessarily” on chai-pani. A recent trip by CM to Saharanpur in UP in state copter to attend a ‘satsang’ of a seer was also criticised.

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    Anupam Trivedi provides impetus to HT’s coverage from Uttarakhand and has covered politics, environment, policing, entertainment for close to 17 years.

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