KATHMANDU, Sept 3: Helicopter operators are saying that a taskforce formed by the government to study irregularities in helicopter rescues neither held any discussion with chopper operators, nor does it have any proof of wrongdoings.
Although the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation has said that the investigation was conducted based on complaints received from insurance companies, chopper operators argued that the taskforce did not receive any document that it sought from the insurance companies.
The report states that the taskforce did not receive any details as such from insurance companies.
“As per the complaint received on July 15, the ministry had asked 15 insurance companies, who sell policies to tourists coming to Nepal, to send details of their activities related to Nepal.
Among others, the taskforce had asked insurance companies to furnish details of policies sold, name of Nepali banks to who money was remitted and the beneficiary hospitals or trekking companies.
Chopper operators argue that the taskforce has not received such documents from insurance companies yet. They also say that the taskforce lacked members with technical know-how to study technicalities of rescues and chopper operations.
“In such a scenario, how can we be certain that the taskforce has conducted fair investigation?” questioned Pabitra Karki, president of Airlines Operators Association of Nepal (AOAN).
He added that the taskforce only analyzed data provided by chopper operators themselves. “After receiving data, they (taskforce members) did not invite us for discussion on the issue and cross verification of the data,” Karki said, adding: “How can they make such accusations against us based on data that we ourselves provided?”
Talking to Republica, an official of the ministry admitted that the taskforce did not invite any chopper operators for discussion on the issue and cross verification of the data provided them.
“The taskforce had asked Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) to collect overall data including revenue details of chopper companies. It just went through the data and recommended concerned regulatory bodies for needful action accordingly,” the official added, seeking anonymity.
A member of the taskforce said that the ‘final report’ is just a primary draft of the investigation report.
“The taskforce didn’t receive information that it had sought from international insurance companies. That is why it studied data provided by Nepali companies,” the member said, requesting anonymity. He also added that some taskforce members signed the report without even reading it. “Further investigations will be carried out by concerned regulatory bodies as stated in the report,” he added.