PUNJAB LOCAL Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Sunday demanded that Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal order an inquiry into the expenditure made by the previous SAD-BJP government on hiring chartered helicopters between 2007 and 2017.
Addressing mediapersons, Sidhu claimed that besides Rs 37 crore spent on purchasing a government chopper and fuel, the SAD-BJP government spent Rs 121 crore on hiring helicopters. He alleged that between September 2016 and December 2016, just before the Assembly election, the Badals spent Rs 9 crore on hiring private helicopters. He said he did not have details of the chopper firm whose service was used by the government.
Responding to a question that even incumbent Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh was using helicopters despite making a poll promise that his government won’t fly choppers with taxpayers’ money, Sidhu said the Congress government in the past nine months had spent Rs 22 crore. Chartered plane was hired only thrice — twice for the Governor and once for the DGP during a law and order situation, he added.
SAD spokesman and former minister Maheshinder Singh Grewal dismissed the allegations. In a statement, he said that Sidhu had come up with “ridiculous figures” of low expenditure on air travel during the last nine months of Congress rule. He said the truth was that the salaries of pilots and others alone amount to Rs 3 crore per annum irrespective of whether the helicopter is flown or not. “How can he justify the figures he has given when Rs 20-25 lakh is spent on pilots and others’ salaries per month?”