New Delhi [India], October 6 (ANI): After Congress leader Rahul Gandhi talked of government procuring two VVIP planes during his visit to Punjab, sources said the process for procuring these aircraft began around a decade ago under the UPA government and the Modi government has simply brought this process to a logical conclusion.
"The process for procuring these aircraft began around a decade ago under the UPA government. The Modi government has simply brought this process to a logical conclusion. These aircraft are not PM's aircraft but will be used for other VVIPs too. These belong to IAF and not the Prime Minister," a source said.
Gandhi raked up the purchase of two VVIP aircraft during a rally in Punjab on Tuesday.
"On one hand, PM Modi has bought two aircraft worth Rs 8000 crores. On the other hand, China is at our borders and our security forces are braving harsh cold to protect our borders," he said.
Sources said that Gandhi is entitled to his "disregard" for the UPA government, but not entitled to his own facts.
They said that the process of acquisition of two new aircraft for the travel of VVIPs commenced in 2011 when upon the direction of the Group of Ministers (GOM), a meeting of the Committee of Secretaries (CoS) was held wherein it was decided that an Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) would examine the available options for long-term arrangement of VVIP aircraft.
They said in the same year, an Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) coordinated by Cabinet Secretariat was set up to consider all the options, including acquisition, management and utilization of aircraft for VVIP operations.
IMG met around ten times and submitted recommendations in 2012. Two options were recommended- convert an existing B777 ER, or use one of the new ones that were ordered by Air India but yet to be delivered, sources said.
They also said that the Cabinet Secretariat recommended the transfer of the aircraft to the Indian Air Force (IAF) in August 2013 and thereafter, the process was just brought to its logical conclusion.
Sources said the aircraft used for VVIP travel till now, the famed Air India Jumbo Jets, are more than 25 years old.
Not only are they incapable of long, trans-Atlantic flights, forcing halt en route for refueling and replenishment purposes, they are also "fuel guzzlers of epic proportions", the sources said. (ANI)