NEW DELHI: India's top audit body has pulled up Air India for not recovering crores of rupees owed to the national carrier for special flights used by the president, vice-president and the prime minister.
The Comptroller and Auditor General has asked the Government and Air India Limited (AIL) to make more efforts to recover the money spent on VVIP chartered flights.
In its latest report, released in March this year, CAG noted that that the total unpaid dues as on March 31, 2016, stood at Rs 513.27 crore. Of this, Rs 472.09 crore were spent on the operation of VVIP flights and Rs 41.18 crore for the External Affairs Ministry.
A Right to Information (RTI) application by activist Lokesh Batra disclosed that on March 31, 2017, Air India had dues worth Rs 451.74 for the use of chartered flights by the president, vice president and prime minister, besides special missions.
"AIL earmarked three B747-400 aircraft for the sole purpose of operating special extra section flights for VVIP operation," the CAG report said.
The carrier was rapped for taking six months to raise invoices for VVIP travels and special missions despite the revenue constraints it faced.
Air India had told CAG on February 02, 2016, that the delay was on account of information that had to be gathered from various stations. It said in view of the audit observations, efforts were being made to speed up the process.
"Though with continuous efforts, AIL was able to recover 50 per cent of the old dues... the total unpaid dues as on March 31, 2016, were Rs 513.27 crore," it said.
The government audit body said considering the significant quantum of the pending dues and in the context of government support to AIL for a turnaround, "more efforts need to be made" for an early reimbursement both AIL and the government.
The Turnaround Plan and Financial Restructuring Plan of Air India was approved by the Government in April 2012.
"Government had committed to infuse equity of Rs 42,182 crore from 2011-12 to 2031-32," CAG noted.