THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The furore over Agali Maoist encounter has not bogged down the state government from intensifying its drive against the red ultras. The Home Department has given sanction to the Police Department to procure a helicopter on a wet-lease basis to intensify its anti-Maoist operations. Sanction has been given to procure AS 365 Dauphin N3 from Pawan Hans Ltd for a fixed monthly charge of Rs 1.44 crore for 20 hours flying per month. In case of flying beyond this limit, an hourly charge of Rs 68,000 will be levied extra.
The sanction was given in view of the proposal submitted by State Police Chief Loknath Behera.
Pawan Hans and Chipsan Aviation Ltd had submitted Expression of Interest, but the former was picked up after several bouts of discussions held under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary Tom Jose. Sources said technical aspects, specific requirements of helicopter and comparative statement of tender documents of other states were examined in detail before finally zeroing in on Pawan Hans.
“Apart from its efficiency, being a Public Sector Undertaking, the lot went to Pawan Hans. At this critical juncture, we do not want to invite unwanted allegations by opting for a private firm,” said a top-level officer. Three types of choppers were suggested by Pawan Hans, out of which Dauphin was selected on account of its technical superiority. Dauphin is a medium twin-engine machine with sound-proofing and can be used for aerial tracking and identification of insurgents, troop insertion in Naxal-infested areas, deployment of commandos and rescue and relief operations.
The chopper can also be put to use in transporting high-risk prisoners and VIPs. “In Kerala, due to increased activities of Left-wing extremist cadre in the northern districts of Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad and Kannur, requirement of at least one helicopter was thought out for various operational purposes,” the order said.