The CAG has slammed an Andhra Pradesh government firm for paying Rs 14.33 crore to an aviation company without even utilising any services. Andhra Pradesh Aviation Corp Ltd (APACL), an arm of the state government, paid a whopping Rs 14.33 crore to Saras Aviation Services (SAS) “for hiring of helicopters” without proper assessment of the flying hours, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has said. In a report on PSUs for the year ended March 2016, the CAG exposed the “dubious payments” the APACL made to SAS in 2014-15. The auditing agency also picked several holes in the running of the APACL, which incurred a total expenditure of Rs 20.74 crore in 2014-15 for hiring helicopters for VIP use.
Ever since he became Chief Minister on June 8, 2014, Chandrababu Naidu had been using only chartered aircraft and helicopters for official as well as (occasional) personal use. Interestingly, the CAG audit related to the hiring of helicopters only and not the aircraft. APACL entered into an agreement with SAS in September 2014 for hiring single or twin engine choppers for a minimum of 100 hours of flying per month at the rate of Rs 2.50 lakh per hour.
The hiring period was supposed to begin on October 1, 2014 for a period of five years, with a minimum guarantee fee of Rs 25 lakh per month, the CAG said in its report. “After a lapse of nine months from entering the agreement, the company arrived at the requirement of 45-50 hours of average flying. However, no formal amendment was on record in respect of the reduced average flying hours.