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Friday, August 06, 2021

Opposition fumes over West Bengal govt’s move to hire 10-seater VIP aircraft

The West Bengal Infrastructure Development Corporation (WBIDC) had floated a tender for hiring a fixed-wing aircraft on June 11 with earnest money fixed at Rs 10 lakh.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata |
July 1, 2021 2:36:37 am
Judge a BJP member, had objected to his confirmation: Mamata wants HC Nandigram case ‘re-assigned’Mamata Banerjee and Suvendu Adhikari. (File photo)

THE STATE government’s bid to hire an aircraft instead of a helicopter has triggered a controversy, with the Opposition raising questions.

The West Bengal Infrastructure Development Corporation (WBIDC) had floated a tender for hiring a fixed-wing aircraft on June 11 with earnest money fixed at Rs 10 lakh. Among the requirements listed by the WBIDC are: The firm should have a minimum of five years experience of operating a fixed-wing twin-engine aircraft with a minimum capacity of 8-10 passengers, the aircraft has to be an air-conditioned, pressurised super mid-size aircraft like a Falcon- 2000 with stand-up cabin space and be capable of flying any distance within India.

Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Suvendu Adhikari on Wednesday criticised the government’s move. He tweeted, “Pushpak Rath for (self-proclaimed) PM??? Dissatisfied with the helicopter’s range, the process of acquiring a 10-seater airplane has been initiated. Convenient for whimsical crisscrossing of the entire country for upcoming Lok Sabha poll campaigning? On Govt expenses?”

Incidentally, Suvendu was transport minister in the Mamata Banerjee Cabinet from 2016 to December, 2020, which is the nodal department to look after matters related to civil aviation.

TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh hit back at Adhikari, “Tatkal BJP leader, who used to travel by State Govt helicopter when he was TMC minister, is now assigned to bark regarding flights. And this uses pvt flights for ‘Dalbadluus’. Shameless,” he tweeted.

CPM and Congress leaders also spoke out against the government’s move. CPM leader Sujan Chakraborty said, “When the state is going through a financial crisis, such expenses are meaningless.”

Congress leader Abdul Mannan said, “There is a competition between [Prime Minister] Modi and Mamata on who can waste more public money. People are watching this competition.”

A senior officer in the transport department said, “In this pandemic time, many officials or VVIPs have to go other states or Delhi. But, now, airlines services are erratic and also risky. Thus, the government is planning to arrange its own aircraft.”

However, another official claimed that the aircraft would be hired “exclusively for the Chief Minister”.

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