| Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma in a helicopter. File picture |
Tura, April 3: Pawan Hans Limited today clarified that it had given its helicopter to the Meghalaya PCC for ferrying a passenger after receiving a no-objection certificate from the Meghalaya Transport Corporation.
The clarification came in the wake of a complaint by the National People’s Party (NPP) that the Congress had misused the public chopper service in campaigning for the party’s Tura candidate, Daryl William Momin.
Sanjay Kumar, general manager of Pawan Hans Ltd, in his letter to returning officer Pravin Bakshi said, “The Dauphin N3 helicopter was provided to the Meghalaya Congress for carrying their passenger to a different location according to their requirement after we received payment for the service.”
Kumar said the helicopter was provided to the Meghalaya PCC after receiving a no-objection certificate from the Meghalaya Transport Corporation for de-hiring.
The NPP had lodged the complaint with the Election Commission against Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma for the misuse of the public chopper service, a violation of the model code of conduct. Sangma had used the chopper from March 25 to April 1.
The transport corporation in its letter to Bakshi said, “The government of Meghalaya had issued an NOC to Pawan Hans for de-hiring of the government helicopter service. It is the sole concern of Pawan Hans to utilise the helicopter after it is de-hired on the condition that no fixed monthly charges will be charged during the de-hired period.”
“Using the only Pawan Hans helicopter in the state, which is deployed for public transport by the state government and managed by the Meghalaya Transport Corporation, solely for election purposes to ferry the chief minister to different meeting venues in Garo hills amounts to abuse of power and misuse of government facilities for election campaign,” NPP’s West Garo Hills president Semford B. Sangma had said in his complaint.
Semford had submitted a copy of the receipt and the helicopter itinerary to the returning officer, in which the Congress was shown to have paid Rs 50 lakh for using the chopper on March 25 and 26.
Nine-time MP and NPP president Purno Agitok Sangma will contest from Tura against political greenhorn Momin, who is the grandson of the first Meghalaya chief minister Williamson Sangma.