AIZAWL, Aug 2 (IANS): As an independence day gift, people of mountainous Mizoram will get helicopter services from Aug 14, officials said here Thursday.
Wing Commander (retd) Lalzawma, officer-on-special duty (OSD) for civil aviation wing under the Mizoram government, told reporters: "The helicopter service would be introduced in remote and bordering areas to oversee developmental works, provide connectivity to people in emergency situations and carry dignitaries."
Mizoram Chief minister Lal Thanhawla will flag-off the helicopter service from the main operational hub, Thuampui helipad in Aizawl Aug 14.
Lalzawma said the helicopter service would be utilised for supervising developmental works in remote areas, offering medical care during emergencies in far-flung places, facilitating visits of dignitaries and tourists in inaccessible areas and carrying passengers in an emergency situation.
He said: "One twin-engine helicopter with carrying capacity of minimum seven passengers excluding crew would be operated by India's national helicopter company Pawan Hans Helicopters Ltd. The chopper service would be operated between capital Aizawl and nine district and sub-divisional towns."
"It will help improve accessibility in remote, hilly areas and those bordering Myanmar and Bangladesh during monsoon (June to September) or in emergency situations."
The chopper service can be chartered at a cost of Rs.70,000 per hour with free waiting charge for 45 minutes. The waiting charge will be Rs.10,000 per 30 minutes after the stipulated 45 minutes.
The helicopter service will be available on all days except Sundays.
"The chopper service would be immensely beneficial for people of Mizoram where landslides frequently cut off road connectivity during rains," Lalzawma said.
"It would be helpful for the tourists and for immediate carrying of critical patients from the rural and remote areas to the state capital," he added.
For the last 10 years, the Pawan Hans Helicopters company has been operating services in the interior areas of Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Tripura, Sikkim, Nagaland and Manipur with the union home ministry subsidising fares by up to 75 percent.