`Omar, Mins use choppers to be with people`
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Last Updated: Friday, August 12, 2011, 22:34
Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Government has said its helicopters were used by top functionaries of the state including Chief Minister Omar Abdullah as these had proved to be very important tools in better governance.

"Choppers are important tools of effective and efficient governance where the Chief Minister and other Ministers can attend to their office work and be with people in various far flung areas in the shortest possible time," an official spokesman said in response to media reports about use of helicopters by the Chief Minister, that was revealed in an RTI reply.

The spokesman said it must be appreciated that helicopter travel is a matter of necessity in a state like Jammu and Kashmir, which comprises of rugged, inhospitable and hazardous terrain spread over a large area.

He said the reply of the Department of Civil Aviation to an RTI application was in line with the government's policy of following transparency in these matters.

"Information was sought under RTI regarding use of helicopters by the Chief Minister for the last three years. The Government is committed to transparency in all matters of governance and, therefore, has given out full details of the visits as sought," the spokesman said.

He said the expenditure figures, however, relate to the entire department?s flying activities for the last three years. "It is important to understand that Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) also undertakes the task of flying the Governor, Union Ministers, Ministers of the State and senior Government officials of the state and Government of India; apart from key police officers in emergency situations.

"DCA also carries out casualty evacuations, polling duties, cash couriers to far flung areas and flying people in Gurez and Tangdhar areas during winters when the road gets blocked. It ferries Ministers and officials during natural calamities like earthquake, floods, road blockages due to landslides and village fires and damages due to hailstorms and storms.

"The expenditure numbers given out, therefore, are for all the flying activities and not merely for the flights undertaken by the Chief Minister as brought out," the spokesman said.

He said the flights to tourist resorts were not meant for holidaying but to get first hand information on the facilities and progress of the developmental activities and presiding over various Development Authority meetings.

"The Chief Minister uses the aerial route to visit such places to avoid inconvenience to common public and tourists who get stranded due to his road movements. Also adequate sorties are required to be cared out to the same location to a single visit of any VVIP to move officers, staff and key security personnel," he said.


First Published: Friday, August 12, 2011, 22:34

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