KATHMANDU, July 1:As per the requests made from Nepal Army, the cabinet meeting has decided to purchase three helicopters--one medium and two light--for the disaster response and rescue operations.
Soon after the last year's earthquake, the Ministry of Defense had forwarded the proposal to the cabinet in order to begin the procurement process citing immediate need of helicopters for rescue and relief operations.
In an attempt to enhance the capacity for disaster response, the cabinet decided to purchase three helicopters, Government spokesman Sher Dhan Rai said.
Earlier, the government had decided to provide Rs 20 billion to the Nepal Army to enhance its capacity in disaster response in the condition to spend the amount in three years, up to Rs 3 billion in the first year.
As per the government decision, the Ministry of Defense had approved about Rs 3 billion for helicopters purchase and vehicles and other essential machines used for disaster response. A total of Rs 460 million has been allocated by the Ministry of Finance to purchase the vehicles and other equipment, according to Defense Ministry spokesman Shiva Prasad Shimkhada.
Apart from three helicopters, Nepal Army is soon to get a military jeep, three pick-ups, an excavator, a concrete breaker, a loader, three dump trucks, two trucks and two low-bed trucks and other engineering items, according to the Ministry of Defense.
During last year's earthquakes, Nepal had faced serious difficulties in search and rescue operations and relief distribution due to lack of helicopter and other equipment. Nepal had sought support from neighboring and other countries for the purpose during the earthquakes, which claimed over 9000 lives and left hundreds of thousands homeless.