State hired services of banned Augusta Westland: Congress

Sawant in his press brief raised questions based on this assurance.

Mumbai: Maharashtra Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant on Monday levelled serious allegations at the BJP-led state government. The allegations were related to hiring of VVIP helicopters from the controversial Augusta Westland Company, which had made headlines for the wrong reasons in 2015-16.

Mr Sawant at a press conference in the city on Monday questioned, “If this company is blacklisted by the union government, how come the state government is allowing any hiring through it as sub-contract?”

The Maharashtra government through a government resolution (GR) dated May 4 this year informed that it had asked two helicopter service providers, Adonis Aviation Enterprises and Messrs Aloft International Private Limited to provide services when required. Interestingly, the said companies had inked sub-contracts with 11 other companies, including Augusta Grand (seven-seater), Augusta 109P (seven-seater) and Augusta 109E (eight-seater). The copters were originally from Augusta Westland Company, which is being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for the alleged scam in the VVIP chopper deal.

Last year, the then defence minister, Manohar Parrikar, said on the floor of Parliament that the union government would ban Augusta Westland and Finmeccanica companies from any further business in India.

Mr Sawant in his press brief raised questions based on this assurance. “If the BJP government told us that there would be a total ban, how come this company has been included for services to the state government?” said Mr Sawant.

However, BJP rebutted the charges. Chief spokesperson of the party, Madhav Bhandari, said, “The GR does not mention name of any company. There is a rule about double engine chopper to be used in VVIP service from 1981.”

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