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
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
"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
"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
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.