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Govt to get chopper,but Buddha will stay grounded

The Left Front government will get a brand new chopper from a private firm on lease in May. But,for now,it will not be used by Chief Minister.

Written by Ravik Bhattacharya | Kolkata |
March 25, 2009 2:16:48 am

The Left Front government will get a brand new chopper from a private firm on lease in May. But,for now,it will not be used by Chief Minister. Instead the 13-seater helicopter will be used for transporting state government officials.

In spite of the two recent security breaches of his convoy,Bhattacharjee will be unable to avail this chopper for campaigning purpose due to the model code of conduct.

The brand new Bell 412 EP,which has been leased from Zav Airways — a Bengal-based private airways company — for a period of three years,will cost the state government around Rs 1.25 lakh for each hour it flies. At present,the government is shelling out Rs 75 lakh a month for a Pawan Hans helicopter leased from the Centre.

“As of now, the chief minister will not be using the helicopter for election campaign. We already have a helicopter on standby for the past one month and it is being used by senior government officials for tours. But it is old and we are getting a new one on lease,” said a senior police officer at the Writers’ Buildings.

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Kishor Zavery,chairman of Zav Airways who bought the helicopter for Rs 35 crore,said his company will provide the pilot and the staff. “We have bought the helicopter from Canada which will be delivered by the middle of April. By May,we will be able to lend it to the state government for use,” he said.

“When VVIPs will travel,the seating capacity will be reduced to eight,” Zavery added.

Though the election campaign is in full swing,Bengal politicians are shy of flying.

“Here nobody wants to fly for their campaign,unlike in Bihar or Uttar Pradesh. It is the cost factor and there is a tradition too,” said Zavery,who had recently rented out his helicopter during Diego Maradona’s visit to Kolkata.

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