MHA plans to buy wet-lease choppers

New Delhi: The Home Ministry is planning to buy and wet-lease choppers to assist its forces engaged in internal security duties, including anti-naxal operations, as the entire fleet of indigenous Dhruv helicopters has been grounded following a series of mishaps.

Home Minister P Chidambaram said the Mi-17 helicopters of the Indian Air Forces will help the paramilitary and state police forces to do their job till the alternative arrangements were made. "Mi-17 helicopters are functional. It is the Dhruv helicopters which were grounded. One of them crashed….so I immediately I directed remaining (fleet) should be grounded," he told reporters here last evening.

Chidambaram said he had authorised wet leasing of some helicopters and also looking for buying some more choppers for use by the security forces. "We have authorised wet leasing of helicopters. We are also looking to buy some helicopters. This is a long-term project for which money must be made available. And I sincerely hope that money will be made available. "…I think unless we find a replacement from the Dhruv helicopters, we would have to do with the Mi helicopters," he said.

The Border Security Force maintains the fleet of Dhruv helicopters. Before the crashes near Ranchi and Raipur, it had seven Dhruvs. At least five Dhruv choppers, manufactured by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and designed to meet the requirement of both military and police forces, have crashed in recent years in India, Nepal and Ecuador in Latin America.