Jammu: BJP Thursday said the Jammu and Kashmir government had spent Rs 310 crore on purchase of air-fleet in the last 10 years, even as its employees had been agitating for release of arrears and regular salary.
“State employees are constantly agitating for release of arrears and regular salary. Against this backdrop, it is baffling to come across reports that during the past 10 years, which include over five years of the present NC-Congress regime, an amount of Rs 310 crore has been spent on purchase of air-fleet,” BJP National Executive member and state chief spokesperson Jitendra Singh said in a statement here.
“What is more appalling is the revelation that in the last three years of NC-Congress rule, Rs 12 crore has been spent on plane and chopper sorties to facilitate movement of dignitaries,” he said.
The BJP leader said instead of being apologetic about such extravagant air-fleet expenditure despite the financial crunch, there were reports that the state government was contemplating purchase of more choppers, including the sophisticated ‘Light Twin-Engine Helicopters’ and it has already shortlisted some foreign companies for this.
He said at present, the Jammu and Kashmir air-fleet consists of one fixed-wing aircraft (King Air-350) and two helicopters — double engine Augusta 109 and single engine Bell 407.
The 2006 Augusta model is used to ferry VVIPs and VIPs, including the Governor, the Chief Minister, Cabinet Ministers and other dignitaries, from outside to remote and inaccessible areas while the 2001-model Bell is usually meant for ferrying Ministers of State, he said.
The BJP leader demanded a detailed paper from the NC- Congress coalition government on what precisely was the nature of air sorties that took place during the last five years and how often was the state helicopter used to fly the so-called VVIPS to a tourist destination like Gulmarg or to carry them from their residential bungalows to the airport and back.
He demanded to know how often were the state helicopters actually used for their officially declared purpose which includes carrying out relief and rescue operations including evacuation of patients and injured persons from remote areas that remain cut off during winter following closure of roads due to snowfall.
He said it is absolutely unpardonable for the coalition government to squander money from the state exchequer in such a lavish manner at a time when the state is so cash-starved that it has no money even to replace damaged electric poles or repair damaged roads and when over seven to eight lakh youths in the state are jobless.