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Thursday, August 20, 2009

J&K Govt plans to hire MI-17s for remote areas

The Jammu and Kashmir Government is planning to hire Indian Air Force helicopters during winter to ensure communication with far-flung areas cut-off by snowfall. Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs would be approached to fund the proposal.

“We intend to hire MI-17 helicopter services for Gurez, Tangdar, Drass, Paddar, Machhail, Zanskar, Marwah, Warwan and other such remote and cut-off areas to”, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah told a delegation from Drass, the second coldest inhabited region of the world on Wednesday.

“The Union ministry for Tribal Areas development will be approached to extend support to Jammu and Kashmir in this regard”, he said. Chief Minister said that the matter of constructing a tunnel in Zojilla Pass is being pursued vigorously with the Central authorities.

A separate proposal has been mooted to open a 12 km tunnel at Razdan Pass connecting Kashmir Valley with Gurez. Zojila and Gurez tunnels are cited as major defence proposals which would also be highly beneficial for the local population.

“We are also looking for weekly helicopter services to the remote areas by hiring big helicopters like MI-17”, he said and added that this would not only help to airlift the passengers and essentials but open these areas for tourism and sports.

Most of the remote areas in Jammu and Kashmir get cut-off after the onset of winter season. Many areas like Gurez, Kargil, Leh and Macchil remain out of ground reach for more than six months. The people in these areas are solely dependent upon erratic aerial traffic. The State Government occasionally hires defence helicopters for supply of essential commodities and airlifting sick and needy people.

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