Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Mar 2:
The Odisha government has requested the Centre to make provisions for two MI-17 or equivalent helicopters for the state to take up anti-Maoist operations.
In a letter to Union Home minister Rajnath Singh today, chief minister Naveen Patnaik said he had requested the former Union Home minister in a letter on October 29, 2010 for two dedicated MI-17 helicopters to be stationed at Koraput and Bhubaneswar for anti-Maoist operations to which the ministry had intimated that the state government could hire a helicopter as per the approval given by the Home ministry to the work plan of the state under SRE (Security Related Expenditure) scheme of the Centre for the year 2010-11.
He, however, said though the state government has hired one MI-172 helicopter from Pawan Hans Helicopters Limited (PHHL) and made it operational since August 7, 2011 for movement of force in the Maoist affected areas and evacuation of casualties, its services is not available to the state for operational purposes due to prolonged pilot strike.
Meanwhile, PHHL has replaced the MI- 172 helicopter with an eight-seated Dauphin helicopter, including four crew members, with effect from February 4, 2013 which is now in service.
Stating that the state government was forced to hire the helicopter services from a private company since the Centre is yet to take a decision in this regard, Patnaik requested the Home minister to sincerely consider the request of the state government for deployment of two MI- 17 or equivalent helicopters at the earliest for effective undertaking of anti-Maoist operations.