CHANDIGARH: Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar’s love for flying is costing the exchequers of their respective states.
Sources said that the Haryana government was spending around Rs 23 lakh a month on the state-owned helicopter for Khattar, as he flies at least 20 hours every month.
The Punjab government’s twin engine, five-seater Bell 429 helicopter flies Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal for around 35 hours a month on an average, costing the state exchequer Rs 1.25 lakh per hour.
In the last 14 months, the Haryana government has spent Rs 3.30 crore on the chopper for VIPs, including fuel and maintenance charges. It has also spent Rs 2.70 crore on hiring planes 57 times between October 2014 and July 2015.
Besides Khattar, the chopper was also used by Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki. The Haryana government has now floated a tender for a twin-engine aircraft on lease that can carry at least five passengers and two crew members. It had also advertised for a twin-engine helicopter on an ad hoc hiring basis. Both aircraft should not be older then 25 years and will be on a lease and hiring basis at least for a year. In 2014, an eight-seater plane belonging to the Haryana government crashed at the airport as it was about to take off with then Governor Jagan Nath Pahadia, who had a miraculous escape. The plane caught fire, and after that, the government was left without an aircraft.
After coming to power in Haryana, the BJP had directed its ministers and MPs to travel by Shatabdi and Volvo buses, which Khattar did initially.
Punjab owned a Beechcraft airplane that crashed in 2008 while on a test run, killing both pilots. Since then, the state civil aviation department has hired a private airplane for the Badals for about five hours a month and paid Rs 1.40 lakh per hour for a five-seater and Rs 2.25 lakh per hour for a nine-seater.
The aircraft is hired for whenever the CM has to go out of Punjab. He flew to Patna recently, and before that to Assam, according to an official.
For the helicopter, the Punjab government has hired three pilots and technical staff.
Badals ask for Delhi Landing space
The Punjab Government will be asking the Union Ministry of Home Affairs to allow the government’s helicopter to land and park at the Safdarjung airport in the national capital. It is not allowed to do so at present due to security reasons. However, the state government has requested this space be made available as both the Badals travel to New Delhi frequently and there is a security threat against both of the leader.