For chartered flights since December, PM Modi owes Rs 134 Cr to debt-ridden Air India

India Samvad Bureau

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is considered as one of the most influential leaders in the world and why not, he is leading the largest democratic country. Given such a stature, providing transport service to such a person would be an honour for any company of the country but not everyone is fateful enough.
However, when it comes to a carrier like Air India, which is already short of money and is deep in debt, you definitely need to be cautious while asking for a favour.
It has recently come to light that for the chartered flights he has been taking since December 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi now owes Rs 134 Crore to air carrier Air India. PM Modi has embarked upon the flight nearly 10 times between June and December 2015.
Air India has prepared the invoices for all these travels. However, the PMO is yet to make the payment for it. Notably, the payment has been delayed this time.
A retired Navy commando who has transformed into an RTI activist, Lokesh Batra said, “This is a cash-strapped airline that does not make money. Why is there such a delay on the part of the highest office in the country to settle these bills? Who bears the cost of the interest?”
Ideally, the PMO should settle each of these bills within a month of receving the invoices, he further mentioned. The RTI activists have been trying to get the details of PM Modi’s trips abroad and the cost they incurred.
But they have only received the replies like “bill under process” or “bill not received.” Though, when Lokesh Batra filed a fresh RTI to AIR India, he received the details Pm Modi’s trips abroad and the outstanding amount to the air carrier.
When one goes through the PMO’s official website, the details of his March 2015 Myanmar trips are mentioned which led to an invoice of Rs 22.6 Crore. Seven others trips are mentioned on the website including 4 from UPA regime dating back to September 2013 which was paid by January 29 this year.
The delay in payment has been more than one and two years in several cases. Meanwhile Air India is already debt ridden and running in loss of more than Rs 2,600 Crore, as reported in 2014-15.
A former Air India Chairman said, “You cannot blame delay in payment from the Prime Minister’s Office for this. In the overall context when the airline is burdened with so many inefficiencies, Rs 134 crore is nothing. And it is not as if payments are not made at all. The bills are always settled.”
“You can say to some extent that it is an irritation. But that is the way bureaucracy and the government functions here. It does not get any awards for swiftness,” he added.