Chopper service providers fined for violating agreement in Kishtwar

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Jammu: Hundreds of pilgrims performing the Shri Hud Mata Yatra in the remote Dachan mountainous belt in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kishtwar district are facing hardships due to the failure of two private helicopter service providers to operate, officials said.

New Delhi-based Heritage Aviation Private Ltd and Pawan Hans Ltd have got the contract to operate choppers along Kishtwar-Kalkoot-Sirchi and Gulabgarh-Machail sectors during the annual six-day Hud Mata Yatra and 43-day Machail Mata Yatra.

The Shri Hud Mata Yatra commenced on July 18 and the Machail Yatra is scheduled to begin on July 25.

Taking serious note of the “breach of agreement”, the officials said Kishtwar District Magistrate Angrez Singh Rana has imposed a fine of Rs one lakh on the two service providers.

Rana has cautioned them their case would be recommended to the Director General of Civil Aviation for “blacklisting” if their services remained disrupted, they said.

“Huge rush of pilgrims stranded at various stations enroute to Hud Mata shrine suffered due to non-availability of air services as per the advertisement and agreement made by the district administration. Both the parties are liable for imposition of penalty as per the clause of 31 of tenders documents and as per clause 27 of the agreement,” the officials said, quoting an order issued by Rana.

Bids for the chopper services from the two sectors were invited on March 31 and three service providers – Heritage Aviation Private Limited, Aryan Aviation Limited and Pawan Hans Limited – were found technically qualified. The financial bids were opened on May 25 and, after negotiations, the contact was allotted to Heritage Aviation and Pawan Hans, they said.

The one-way airfare ranges between Rs 2,200 and Rs 4,000 per head.

The officials said Rana yesterday reviewed arrangements for Machail Yatra and asked security agencies to deploy sufficient number of personnel enroute from Thathri to Machail.

Traffic authorities have also been asked to chalk out plan beforehand in view of the heavy rush of pilgrims. (Agencies)