BHUBANESWAR: Information obtained through RTI reveals that chief minister Naveen Patnaik and his ministers are bleeding the government coffer dry by hiring private helicopters and chartered flights frequently to visit places they can reach by car easily. The hiring charges cost the state more than Rs 12 crore in the last six years. This is beside the money the government spent on ministers' tours by routine flights and cars.
The hiring of private flights refers to the period from April 1, 2005, to June 10, 2010. Of the 320 trips counted during the period, the chief minister alone availed of hired private flights 163 times, costing Rs 674 lakh. Analysis of the information showed an increasing trend in use of private helicopters by ministers. It was found while 154 trips were made from April 2005 to June 2008 costing the state Rs 394.42 lakh, 166 trips were made in three years by June 20, 2010, at a cost of Rs 808.05 lakh. The chief minister was found making the maximum use of private airlines of 59 and 104 trips in both the phases.