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Copter sent to fetch Punjab FM’s passport, costs taxpayer Rs 2 lakh
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 29
Using a chopper to deliver a passport may be the style of jet-setting and globe-trotting chief executives and billionaires, but today the Punjab Government did exactly that. The government behaved like an MNC running on private money and not like a government run on taxpayers’ money.

The Punjab Government's official helicopter meant for the use of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, was pressed into emergency service today just to deliver a passport from Chandigarh to Amritsar. The passport belonged to the state Finance and Planning Minister, Mr Surinder Singla. He was to accompany the Chief Minister with the procession of the golden palki headed for Nankana Sahib, Pakistan, and had forgotten to take his passport.

Sources said that on reaching Amritsar the minister realised that he had forgotten his passport at his official residence in Sector 2 here. Telephone calls were made to senior officials here asking that the passport be sent to Amritsar immediately. It was then decided to use the state government chopper for the purpose. The pilot was summoned and Mr Singla's staff rushed to the helipad with the passport. Telephone calls were made to assure the minister that the passport had been despatched.

At Amritsar a government car was used to deliver the passport at the Attari-Wagah Customs and Immigration checkpost. Since the programme was time-bound, the palki and the delegation crossed over to Pakistan around noon. Mr Singla was slated to cross over later after the completion of the necessary formalities.

The flight to Amritsar and back would mean about 60 minutes of flying time. Since the chopper is on lease from a private company, the charges are levied on an hourly basis. The sources said the passport delivery may have cost anything between Rs 1.50 lakh and Rs 2 lakh by way of various expenses.

Besides Mr Singla the ministers who accompanied the Chief Minister included Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Mr Lal Singh, Ch Jagjit Singh and Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee. Mr Raj Kumar Verka, a Parliamentary Secretary, and Mr B.I.S. Chahal, Adviser to the Chief Minister, are also part of the group.

Several sitting and past MLAs and nearly 30 journalists have also gone with the procession.


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