SHILLONG, Aug 10 - After the wreckage of the Pawan Hans helicopter was recovered in Arunachal Pradesh today, the Meghalaya Government has said it would hold a review meeting on the Pawan Hans service in the State.
Transport Minister HDR Lyngdoh said here today that full details of the Arunachal crash are awaited. After that, a meeting of the Transport Department would be held. �I would be calling my officers and have a discussion on the Pawan Hans service,� Lyngdoh said.
In the absence of a reliable air service in Meghalaya, Pawan Hans� chopper service had been used from 1988, but closed down soon as it was economically non-viable for the company. The service resumed from 1999 after the Central and State Government provided subsidy to the company.
However, the September 2004 crash of a Pawan Hans-operated chopper near Umiam in Ri-Bhoi district killed 10 people on board. The dead included the then Meghalaya Community and Rural Development Minister Cyprian Sangma, two MLAs, a former Deputy Speaker and six others.
The service remained disrupted as there were few takers fearing its air-worthiness. The service officially came to an end following the crash of a chopper operated by the company in Arunachal Pradesh in April 2011, which killed the then Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Dorjee Khandu.
However, the State Government resumed the service from July 2012.
Pawan Hans is a Delhi-based company with operations based at Mumbai and was founded in 1985. The company said it has a fleet strength of 46. Most of the passenger services the company offers are to the remote parts of the country such as North East, Lakshadweep, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and others.
In the North East, Pawan Hans service is available in Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Tripura and Mizoram. In Meghalaya, the company operates a daily chopper service between Shillong-Guwahati-Shillong and Tura-Guwahati-Tura.
Meanwhile, the State Government has been unable to offer a regular and reliable air service so far due to various reasons. The biggest hurdle has been the unsuccessful bid to expand the Umroi Airport due to land acquisition problems. Moreover, the Baljeck Airport in Garo Hills remains a non-starter for years now.