Friday, April 3, 2015

‘Helicopter politics’ rages in tribal Lahaul-Spiti

MANALI: Politics over the number and frequency of emergency helicopter sorties to snow-bound Lahaul-Spiti district is heating up in the cold mountains with BJP and Congress leaders engaging in a war of words. 

When heavy snowfall blocks all roads leading to this tribal area, helicopters are the only mode of transport for thousands of residents. Bad weather conditions had forced the pilots to cancel all sorties for over two weeks earlier this month and BJP leaders got an opportunity to blame the ruling Congress party, alleged a Congress leader. BJP leaders said that it is the result of pressure brought in by them that the state government had to convince the defence ministry to provide two choppers from Air Force, which are lifting people from various helipads in Lahaul-Spiti. 

The number of emergency flights to tribal Lahaul-Spiti district has remained a top agenda in manifestoes by party candidates in this tribal district for over three decades. BJP candidates are trying to fault the helicopter schedule while Congress is trying to woo the tribal population by ensuring maximum possible sorties to make up for cancellation of sorties earlier. For now, patients and students are being lifted on priority basis. 

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