Shillong, July 29 (IANS): The Meghalaya government on Thursday said it has rejected the request of the state-run Pawan Hans Helicopters Ltd to resume its service in this mountainous State, suspended since April 30 after then Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu was killed in a chopper crash.
In September 2004, 10 people, including a Cabinet Minister and two MLAs from Meghalaya, were also killed in a similar crash that took place in Kyrdem Khla, Ri-Bhoi district.
"A Pawan Hans official has requested us to restart their chopper service in the State but we have flatly rejected the request," Transport Minister Abu Taher Mondal told IANS.
On Tuesday, Pawan Hans resumed its helicopter services in Tripura and Sikkim with double-engine choppers instead of previous single-engine choppers. "We have asked all our bases in the northeastern region to resume helicopter services in the six states," a senior Pawan Hans official had said. "Helicopter service in Meghalaya will resume only after the government completes the process of floating new tender for operating a helicopter service," he said.
Mondal said the government had written to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to assist the State in floating a new tender for providing helicopter service.
He said the licence of Pawan Hans to operate in Meghalaya expired February 2011, but due to requirements of the service it was allowed to operate.
The chopper service was introduced in Meghalaya in March 1988, but it was suspended because it turned out to be financially unviable.
The government re-introduced the helicopter service in 1999 with the Union Home Ministry agreeing to provide 50 percent subsidy for the service. The State government contributed another 25 percent subsidy.