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Himachal

Posted at: Oct 24, 2018, 1:02 AM; last updated: Oct 24, 2018, 1:02 AM (IST)

Heli-taxi service comes to a halt

The service between Chandigarh and Shimla was operational thrice a week
Heli-taxi service comes to a halt

Pratibha Chauhan

Tribune News Service

Shimla, October 23

The much-hyped heli-taxi service between Chandigarh and Shimla has come to a grinding halt with the unavailability of the state government-hired helicopter and there being no back-up plan in place to keep the service operational.

It was on June 4 earlier this year that the Himachal Government had launched the heli-taxi service between Shimla and Chandigarh, which was now operational thrice a week. The heli taxi has not plied for more than a week now. The state government had hired a chopper from Pawan Hans, which has now remained grounded for one month due to mandatory service. The service, launched in association with Pawan Hans Ltd, was initially operating on Mondays and Fridays. The frequency was later increased to thrice a week. The fare for the 20-minute journey was fixed at Rs 2,999. The flight was taking off and landing at Jubbarhatti airport, near here.

What is surprising is that despite the government being aware of the mandatory grounding of the MI-17 helicopter for one month for maintenance, there was no back-up plan. Though the Department of Tourism and Civil Aviation had floated tenders for inviting operators to run the heli-taxi service these were cancelled on technical grounds.

Sources in the department said that seven air operators had participated and sent in their bids for providing the service. The department had even held pre-bid meeting with these companies. However, later with the terms and conditions not being acceptable to them the tenders were called off.

As such the heli-taxi services have been discontinued. Additional Chief Secretary Ram Subhag Singh said: “It is true that the service is not running these days. We cannot rely on the state government chopper. I am in Delhi to hold talks with private operators so that the service can run smoothly.” The discontinuation of the services has come at a time when the government was planning to launch the services from other towns like Manali and Dharamsala. The plan was to link these popular tourist towns with destinations like Chandigarh, Ludhiana and Jalandhar, from where a large number of tourists visit Himachal. Plans were also afoot to link most of the temple towns with heli-taxi services.

Poor rail and air connectivity has been the biggest impediment in tourist promotion in Himachal.

Having good air connectivity is a pre-requisite for attracting high-end tourists and barring the Gaggal airport in Kangra, the flight from Shimla have been unreliable and erratic.


Plans under cloud

  • The discontinuation of the services has come at a time when the government was planning to launch the service from other towns like Manali and Dharamsala. 
  • The plan was to link these popular tourist towns with destinations like Chandigarh, Ludhiana and Jalandhar, from where a large number of tourists visit the hill state. 
  • Plans were also afoot to link most of the temple towns with heli-taxi services.

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