New Delhi: The helicopter services in Lakshadweep — in the news for their alleged misuse by ex-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and his family in 1987 — have fallen on bad times.

The services have been halted, and the administrator of Lakshadweep has sought help from the Centre. The administrator of the Union territory has claimed that of the three helicopters given by the Union government in 1987 (used during Rajiv Gandhi's leisure trip to Lakshadweep), 2009 and 2018, two are not in service and one develops technical snag frequently.

The administrator has also said there would be a major problem during the monsoon season if they don't get these copters back in service. The helicopters are used to ferry the sick and those trapped in different islands. Since the last month, there is hardly any service to ferry sick people as the copters are grounded for maintenance.

 For service, not fun

PM Narendra Modi also mentioned the helicopter services which was misused by Rajiv Gandhi during his election speech after which the controversy of joyride erupted.

"Owing to the exceptional geographical location of Lakshadweep islands and the need to have quick and efficient transport services between the islands and from the islands to the mainland, MHA had sanctioned two Pawan Hans helicopters one way back in 1987 and the second one in 2009. 

These helicopters have been mostly operating as 'air ambulances' involving evacuation of people requiring urgent medical attention as two helicopters were proving to be insufficient and MHA sanctioned a third helicopter in March 2018. This third helicopter was without pilots from March to June 2018 but was used as a spare helicopter whenever one or the other helicopter developed technical snag and became unoperational," Lakshadweep administrator writes in his letter sent to MHA last week.


 Giving details about the problem and the reason for halted service of the helicopters, the administrator said, "From June to September, pilots were deployed, and during this short period all three helicopters were functioning.

However, this third helicopter in September 2018 was ferried back to Mumbai on the ground of major maintenance. So far this third helicopter has not since returned even after eight months. In spite of several reminders, Pawan Hans has not even bothered to send us a reply. 

Even the two remaining helicopters have not been functioning continuously and efficiently for the last six months as one or the other has been developing technical snags."

The administration has been facing severe inconvenience in the transport of sick people and facing public criticism as there is only one helicopter and monsoon is near. The administration has requested MHA to take up the matter on priority with Pawan Hans to deploy back two helicopters that have gone back or give them approval for deployment of private helicopter services.