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'Choppers meant for short, not long, trips'

By Mohammed Siddique in Hyderabad
Last updated on: September 03, 2009 11:18 IST
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A former Andhra Pradesh director general of police believes politicians take needless risks by using helicopters.

"Helicopters are meant for short hauls of 100 to 150 kilometres, not for long journeys," former DGP P Ramulu said, reacting to the disappearance of the helicopter carrying state Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy.

Pointing out that Chittoor, Dr Reddy's destination, is 500 to 600 km away from Hyderabad, he wondered how a helicopter can be used for such a long haul.

"They (the chief minister and his staff) should have flown either to Tirupati or Chennai by regular flight and then taken a helicopter from there. Aircraft are much safer than helicopters," he said.

Ramulu, who served as the DGP during the Telugu Desam Party's tenure in power and has since joined the TDP, recalled instances of travelling by helicopter when he found how risky the journeys were.

He also pointed out that Chief Minister Reddy had only one security officer accompanying him on Wednesday's fateful flight.

"I had suggested that the security officer should carry an AK-47 during such a journey just in case the chopper made an emergency landing in hostile environment," Ramulu added.

He also expressed surprise that the chief minister traveled by a Bell 430 helicopter when a much advanced Augusta Westland AW-39 helicopter was available with the state government. The TDP government had bought the Westland helicopter for Rs 58 crore (Rs 580 million). "That is a much safer helicopter," the former DGP said. "I don't know from where this Bell helicopter has come."

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Mohammed Siddique in Hyderabad