New Delhi: A Gurugram-based private aviation company has started manufacturing two-seater helicopters in the Aravalli ranges. The choppers will cost Rs 1.5 crore and can run for five hours on petrol.
Vivek, an official with the company, said that it is the first of its kind unit in India where people can buy their own private helicopter at such a low cost.
“We have chosen technology used in Poland. The helicopter’s engine comprises 135 horse power Rotex 92 ULS. The helicopters will be manufactured at a farm house in the area, and according to orders placed by domestic and foreign customers,” Vivek said. “We have organised a live demo of the chopper from November 23-26 and another on January 12 to attract more customers,” the official added.
The flip side, however, is that the project is considered to be a serious threat to the environment. The Aravalli ranges have dense green cover and are a natural habitat for wild animals like leopards, hyenas and others. Moreover, two defense establishments- the Mohamadpur IAF depot and Maneser NSG camp-are situated at a proximity of just 2 and 8 km from the project, thus raising security concerns.
Despite this, the Haryana government is strangely not averse to the project, and state forest minister Rao Narbir Singh had even visited the site on Friday. The company has established its manufacturing unit in a farm house (No. E-5B at Ansal Aravalli Retreat, Raisina zone, Gair Mumkin hills). It has also constructed a runway in the farm house. The company, however, is accused of chopping hundreds of trees to change the landscape so as to construct the runway in violation of sections 4 and 6 of the Haryana Land Preservation Act.
“We have no objections for manufacturing helicopters but with the location. The hills are known for their rich population of leopards-a shy wild animal that needs peace,” said Rajesh Chand Wats, RWA president of Ansal Aravalli Retreat, Gurugram.
“We have witnessed during demonstrations that the helicopter makes a huge noise that is not suitable for wild animals, and also adds to air and sound pollution. Such a practice would allow wild animals to stray into human settlements more frequently,” Wats added. The said company was earlier running commercial operations of gliders from the same farm house in 2009 and the NGT had banned the practice on environmental grounds.
Wats added that his RWA has written letters (dated January 20, 2016) to the defense ministry as well as NGT, when the company started constructing the runway. “We have decided to knock the NGT’s door again as the project is against environment norms and also poses a security risk,” Wats said.
The Maneser NSG camp and Mohamadpur IAF depot are declared restricted zones by the defense ministry and considered no flying zones. When contacted, Sohna SDM Satish Yadav told Mail Today that the company has taken prior permission from all agencies concerned and it has been asked to submit them in his office.