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Pawan Hans set for poll bonanza

Ashwini Phadnis

New Delhi , Jan. 23

WITH the scent of general elections in the air, the state-owned helicopter operator, Pawan Hans Helicopter Ltd is being wooed by almost all political parties.

Official sources told Business Line that till date five political parties and some agents had approached Pawan Hans seeking to hire the machines to fly leaders to almost every nook and corner of the country.

The largest domestic helicopter operator is to place two Bell helicopters on a full-time basis for election duty, besides looking at the option of placing between one and two Dauphin helicopters for use by various political parties for campaigning.

Among the political parties that have approached Pawan Hans are a regional party from Haryana apart from a leading member of the coalition running the Government at the Centre and the largest Opposition party, sources indicated. With political parties eager to transport national leaders to several elections meetings in a day, helicopters are generally considered the preferred means of transportation.

While the Bell helicopter will be able to seat four people apart from the crew in ideal weather conditions, the bigger Dauphin helicopter will be able to seat up to eight depending on the distance to be covered and weather conditions, officials said.

However, those planning to make use of the helicopters will have to firm up their plans fast as the machines are to be made available on a first-come- first-served basis and only after full payment is made.

The latest move of Pawan Hans to place helicopters at the disposal of political parties for campaigning is likely to lead to an incremental revenue generation of about Rs 2 crore for the organisation. During the recently concluded Assembly elections in four States the helicopters used for ferrying leaders helped generate additional revenue of a little more than Rs 1 crore.

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