By Arun Pratap Singh
DEHRADUN, 20 Feb: Dharchula MLA Harish Dhami, raising the issue of use of “old and damaged” aeroplane to fly on regular service between Dehradun and Pithoragarh under admissibility of rule 58 related to adjournment, reminded that on 9 February, 2019, one 9 seater aircraft operated by Air Heritage flew from Pantnagar after a stopover there to its final destination of Pithoragarh when the door of the aircraft opened mid-air putting on risk, lives of all the 8 passengers aboard the aircraft. He said that following this snag, the aircraft had to make emergency landing at Pantnagar Airport and was not in operation since. He alleged that a totally inexperienced had been granted license to operate flights between Dehradun and Pithoragarh and it was operating an old and damaged aircraft on the route. Other members of the Opposition also supported Dhami and emphasised that it was a serious issue. Leader of the Opposition Indira Hridayesh said that the incident raised questions over the dream project Udaan of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as damaged aircrafts were being operated on many routes. In his response on the behalf of the government, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prakash Pant said that the incident was a matter of concern and taking cognisance of the happening, the government had ordered an inquiry to be conducted by a technical team led by the director of the Pantnagar Airport. The inquiry revealed that during the flight, the crew observed that one indicator was not working properly and therefore the Air Traffic Control Office was contacted and permission for emergency landing was sought. It was during the landing that the door in questioned opened. The report from the director of the Pantnagar Airport had been sent to the DGCA, Government of India. The DGCA had ordered a further inquiry which was still underway. Pending the completion of the inquiry, the aircraft in question was not in operation as yet. He added that the allegation regarding old and damaged aircraft was not fair since the fitness of the planes was tested regularly by the technical experts of the airport authorities. He added the aircraft had been granted fitness and its age was defined by the flying hours completed. The said plane was well within the prescribed limits.
Today, the general discussion of the budget also began. Initiating the general discussion on the budget, Leader of the Opposition, Indira Hridayesh criticised the condition of roads in the state. She added that even the condition of the national highways was poor. She mentioned the Haridwar-Dehradun National Highway and said that it had not been completed many years after the work began. She blamed the state government for this and claimed that the CM, holding the charge of PWD was overburdened with many portfolios and was unable to follow up the issue with the Centre.
She also criticised the condition of health services in the state and added that Ayushman Scheme was not proving to be useful for the cardholders and they were being denied free treatment as claimed. She said that there were not enough doctors in government hospitals and people were forced to seek treatment in private hospitals. She also criticised the Clinical Establishment Act which had forced the private doctors to strike.
Munna Singh Chauhan praised the budget and claimed that unlike the previous budgets of the previous governments, it was for the first time that the budget had a clear direction and not a single impractical promise made. Allocations in the focus sectors were adequate and budget was a balanced and prudent exercise for which the CM and the Finance Minister ought to be praised generously. He however agreed with the Leader of the Opposition Indira Hridayesh in respect of Clinical Establishment Act but reminded her that this act was brought in by the then UPA Government and adopted by Harish Rawat led Congress Government in Uttarakhand.
PCC Chief Pritam Singh described the budget as a jumla and impractical. He added that the government was claiming that it was a Rs 48663 crores budget but given the committed expenditure related to salaries, pensions, interest and principal amount repayment, only an amount of Rs 19,000 crores was left for development which was hardly enough to ensure development in the state. The discussion will continue tomorrow even as departmental budgets are also expected to be presented tomorrow.