Karnataka, the nation’s aviation hub, can pioneer the use of helicopters in law enforcement, according to Dr R.K. Tyagi, chairperson of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL). The Bangalore police should make a beginning and be the first in the country to experiment with helicopters for surveillance, evacuation, emergency and other law and order requirements, he suggested at a national workshop on airborne law enforcement organised by the southern regional chapter of Rotary Wing Society of India. The country needs at least 500 helicopters to handle relief and rescue operations during floods, earthquakes, medical emergencies and in naxal-prone regions. To regulate such operations, it also needs a sound policy which should spell out how and where helicopters are used, flown, maintained, certified and funded, Dr. Tyagi told The Hindu.
In reality, less than 200 of the 280-plus helicopters are in use in the country. HAL would support any related initiatives, he said. HAL has designed and developed a multi-purpose helicopter, the Dhruv, advanced light helicopter, and has sold them to Indian and foreign agencies, he said. Stressing on indigenisation, Dr. Tyagi said, “India is one of the six helicopter-producing nations in the world. Dhruv remains our pride.” Approximately 35,000 helicopters are said to operate globally. Although a vast country like India needs to operate a large number of helicopters, it has far fewer than those in the West or China.
‘To improve governance’
Ideally, Dr. Tyagi suggested, each of the districts in the country should keep a helicopter handy for civic authorities. They can improve governance. He said helicopters have proven their utility in the armed forces, during national calamities and while tackling international security threats. “At present, these machines are underutilised,” said Mr G. Ashok Kumar, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, who detailed innovative ways of using helicopters in administration. Wg. Cdr. Mr Unnikrishna Pillai, Chief Test Pilot (Rotary Wing), highlighted the vital role that Dhruv helicopters played in relief and rescue operations during the Uttarakhand floods.