Pawan Hans set to begin chopper service by Dec 2

IMPHAL,4th Aug: The state government has set the target of December 2 to start helicopter service to improve connectivity with hill districts as part of regional connectivity scheme of the ministry of civil aviation under UDAN-2.

An official source said that ministry has completed tender process for the scheme and Pawan Hans has been selected as service provider. Under the scheme, helicopter services will connect Imphal with Parbung, Thanlon, Moreh, Jiribam and Tamenglong, which has poor road connectivity. Construction of helipad in Jiribam has been completed while other destinations will use existing helipads of army.

Union Defence ministry has approved in principle the proposal for using army helipads. Manipur chief secretary will be signing an MoU with the ministry in this regard soon. Besides, Civil aviation ministry will extend assistance to construct helipads for those areas later and another MoU has been signed for this.

An obstacle limitation team of the civil aviation ministry will conduct a survey of the identified sites for the helipads on August 7. Required service for ground handling, ground security and fire fighting teams will be provided by the state government. However, the state government would be outsourcing these service since it does not have prior knowledge in this area. The state cabinet has approved outsourcing policy. A team of the Bureau of Civil Aviation would be visiting the state soon to give detailed instructions on the infrastructure and manpower for ground security, the source said.

Of the three helicopters needed for the service, the state government has approval to acquire a helicopter under subsidy scheme of the ministry of home affairs. The Centre-State fund share ratio will be 75:25 under the scheme. However, Pawan Hans will provide the initial service for six months before the ministry begins tender process. The government is waiting for Pawan Hans to nominate a representative to sign the MoU for this.

As per agreement, Pawan Hans will provide 62 hours of service a month and fare for hiring the service will be Rs 100 per minute. Since the state government has to pay fare for 62 hours a month to Pawan Hans, there are possibilities of incurring loss to the state exchequer due to lack of passengers, if any. However, the government is considering a project to provide aerial view of Imphal and other valleys of the state in order to cover the loss.

On the other hand, the service of air ambulance, which will soon become a reality in the state, has incorporated different ministries including health & family welfare and DoNER. Previously, there were plans to include NEIGHRIMS in Meghalaya under the service. However, the government has nominated only RIMS under the service. The helicopters under the service will be equipped with life saving drugs and other important emergency healthcare equipment, the source added.

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