Centre gives green signal for helicopter services in J&K, Himachal

New Delhi, Sep 9 (IANS) The central government has approved helicopter services in geographically difficult areas of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh in 10 sectors on a pilot basis, it was announced on Friday.

A Home Ministry release said that five sectors of Jammu and Kashmir have already been accepted on the recommendation of a Joint Working group. These sectors are: Srinagar – Kargil – Srinagar, Srinagar – Drass – Srinagar, Kargil – Padum – Leh – Padum – Kargil, Leh – Lingshed – Leh and Srinagar – Leh – Srinagar.

These sectors may be re-aligned based on the fresh assessment made by the state government in consultation with the Home Ministry.

The central government will subsidise only the cost towards actual number of entitled passengers utilising the helicopter services. No subsidy will be provided for the vacant seats, it said.

Emergency services and common passenger services to the local residents of the state will be provided on priority and at subsidised rates. VIPs, officers of the state government on tour, income tax payers or tourists will not be eligible for subsidised fares. Such persons will have to pay full fare subject to availability of seats.

“The state governments of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh will choose and finalise the most critical sectors in their states, with number of flying hours by the state governments in consultation with the Ministry of Home Affairs based on current justifiable needs. While deciding the sectors for providing the air connectivity, the difference of time between the road travel and air travel may be taken as an important factor,” it said.

The operator of the services will be selected by open tender process by the state government. The operation of helicopter services will continue till March, 2017 or expiry of contract, whichever is earlier.

Review and rationalisation of annual ceiling of flying hours vis-a-vis actual utilisation as well as internal review of the sectors will be carried out in consultation with financial advisers of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Civil Aviation after March next year, it added.

The scheme can be extended to additional sectors at a later date depending upon the assessment of the justifiable needs of the local population, the release said.

–IANS

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