It has taken two years for the state governments General Administration Department (GAD) to release the second installment of Rs 49,66,560 for the purchase of Airbus company Helicopter H145 to be used in anti-Naxal operations in Naxal infested districts and areas of Vidharbha region.
Since 2017 when the government decided to purchase the Helicopter at a price of US Dollars 1,03,47,000 from Airbus, there have been more than 50 clashes between the Naxals and the security forces especially in Gadchiroli district. The most recent one on May 1 earlier this year saw the Naxals ambush a Quick Response Team (QRT) at Kurkheda. The landmine attack killed 15 of the QRT team jawans who were returning in a private vehicle to their base camp.
The state cabinet at it’s meeting on September 7, 2017 had approved the proposal to purchase a new helicopter for anti-naxal operations in the Vidharbha region. A year later on May 8, 2018 the government issued a Government Resolution (GR) approving the purchase of the Airbus H145 Helicopter at a US Dollar 1,03,47,000 price. The government had paid US Dollars 51,73,500 which comes to Rs 36.49 crore to Airbus in two installments. Thereafter in June 2019 the Technical and Flight Acceptance process was completed.
In a GR issued on July 10, 2019, the GAD has out of the remaining 50 percent unpaid amount allocated 48 percent of the allocation which comes to Rs 49,66,560 which is to be paid in US Dollar terms to the Airbus company as per the purchase agreement. The government had made an total allocation of Rs 52,44,75,000 to the Directorate of Aviation, GoM, out of which Rs 49,66,560 were to be paid to the Airbus company for the purchase of the H145 Helicopter.
However, what has raised the concerns is that it has taken two years for the government to make the payments for the purchase of the said helicopter. In the intervening period of delays there have been more than 50 naxal attacks and clashes between the naxals and the security forces. On May 1 earlier this year 15 QRT jawans lost their lives as they were travelling in a private bus just to outfox the naxals. If the government had the helicopter at its disposal by then the story would have been different. Another major clash in April 2018, a gun battle with the Naxals took place in Gadchiroli district between April 22 to April 24 in which 37 naxals were killed.