Kerala

Kerala Police attempt to hire helicopter comes in for flak

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Allegations of bid rigging, extravagance dog State govt.

The Kerala Police Department’s move to hire a helicopter for ‘operational purposes’ appears to have run into a headwind.

The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) Opposition has slammed the bid, which generated a wave of anti-government trolls on social media. In a provocative online post, Congress MLA V. T. Balaram compared Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to yesteryear action hero Jayan. (The actor had died while shooting a helicopter stunt scene in 1980).

“Is the CM Vijayan or Jayan. He feels he could shoot to death seven or eight people if he could get his hands on a helicopter,” Mr. Balaram wrote in his Facebook account. The MLA seemed to have alluded to the recent killing of four Maoists in Palakkad forests by police commandos and the purported claim that the law enforcement required the helicopter for anti-Maoist operations.

Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said the government had used national security as a pretext to hire the aircraft at an excessive rate for the sole purpose of flying Ministers in comfort. A fit of wastefulness had seized the government when the State was reeling under a financial crisis.

The police had struck an agreement with Pawan Hans to hire AS 365 Dauphin N3, Medium Twin-Engine helicopter for ₹1.44 crore for 20 hours of flight time a month. The aircraft was for disaster management missions and security operations.

Controversy

A controversy had erupted on Monday when a private firm alleged that the police had sidelined them to ‘illegally’ award the contract to Pawan Hans though they had offered helicopters at a lesser rate. A senior officer said Pawan Hans, a public sector entity, had an excellent safety record. The helicopter was hardy used by the French Navy for maritime operations.

Given the large population of seagoing fishermen, marine search and operations was a priority for the police.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 11:18:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/kerala-police-attempt-to-hire-helicopter-comes-in-for-flak/article30142308.ece

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