Odisha Govt seeks two copters for anti-Maoist operations

Bhubaneswar: Odisha government urged the Centre today to provide two MI-17 or equivalent helicopters to the state for undertaking anti-Maoist operations in an effective manner.

“I would request you to consider deploying two MI-17 or equivalent helicopters in the state at the earliest for effectively undertaking anti-naxalite operations,” Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said in a letter to Unoin Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

Patnaik said he had earlier requested the then Home minister in a letter on October 29, 2010 for stationing two dedicated MI-17 Helicopters at Koraput and Bhubaneswar for anti-naxalite operations in Odisha.

In response, the then minister of state for Home Affairs in his letter of November 26, 2010 had intimated that Government of Odisha could hire a helicopter as per the approval given by the ministry to the work plan of the state under SRE (Security Related Expenditure) scheme of central government for 2010-11, he said.

The state government had hired one MI-172 helicopter from Pawan Hans Helicopters Ltd (PHHL) and made it operational from August 7, 2011 for movement of force in Maoist affected areas and evacuation of casualties, Patnaik said in the letter copy, which was released here.

However, because of prolonged pilot strike, the services of MI-172 helicopter by PHHL is not available to the state for operational purposes and the company has replaced it with an eight-seater Dauphin helicopter, including four crew members, with effect from 4th February, 2013 which is now in service, the chief minister said.

“The state government has also requested the ministry of Home Affairs time and again to deploy two MI-17 or equivalent helicopters in the state. However, it has not yet materialised. Due to non-deployment of Government of India helicopters, the state government had to hire the Dauphin Helicopter from PHHL,” he said.