RAIPUR: Amid the protracted three-decade-old conflict between the outlawed CPI (Maoist) and Chhattisgarh government and its security forces, choppers are often deployed on challenging missions to meet emergencies or provide care in Bastar conflict zone.
On Sunday, the Director-General of CRPF A P Maheshwari expressed concern for his men deployed in far-flung left-wing extremist-affected areas in forests and revealed a new plan to further secure their safety on medical emergencies.
“We have hired air ambulance (fixed-wing aircraft) and decided to retrofit the helicopter into an air ambulance as a life-saving intervention”, the DG stated.
The helipads assume consequential significance across the hostile terrain where over 60 battalions are deployed to combat naxals.
There are 283 helipads in Chhattisgarh, with night landing facilities available in 18 of them. The budget has been allotted to the state for creating such facilities in 19 more helipads in its edgy districts.
Out of the 283, a total of 66 helipads are located in the strife-torn zone of Bastar located, south Chhattisgarh. These 66 are based in and around Central Armed Paramilitary Forces (CAPF) including CRPF, BSF, CISF, ITBP and SSB.
The premier paramilitary forces CRPF felt the need for one more close to their base camps and other cluttered terrains. There are over 150 camps of the CRPF alone in Bastar.
According to the officials, a proposal has been sent to their headquarters seeking more helipads, where the chopper can move swiftly during crisis and emergency from one location to another.
“We believe, losing a life in the combat zone is a tragedy and saving every life is nothing less than a triumph. There are a good number of helipads in and around our camps and prime locations. The real problem is faced when the helicopter has immediately reached the encounter site”, the CRPF spokesperson B C Patra told the Express.
As of now, there are 7 choppers deployed for the force in south Chhattisgarh. They are meant for tactical transport of forces for operations particularly during the monsoon season - air-lift injured and ailing troopers for medical attention and carry rations to remotely located camps inaccessible for ground transport. But the real challenge comes when there is an encounter in forested terrain.
Temporary open flat field as landing and take off for helicopter are expeditiously identified for handling emergency situations like evacuation of personnel and the pilot is guided through smoke candle.
After the proposal on creating helipads gets approved, the funds are channelised by the ministry of home affairs under the security-related expenditure to the state government and the public works department to create helipad landing facilities.