The central government is planning to develop helipads along major highways across the country so that accident victims can be evacuated using helicopters from the spot.
Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said that the initiative is part of efforts taken by the government to boost the country's helicopter segment, and steps are being carried out to have Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS), NDTV reported.
Speaking at a summit organised by the industry body Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Scindia said that he is working with the Ministry of Road Transport to try and see whether the government will be able to develop these helipads, especially in major cities like Mumbai and Delhi, so that if there is any casualty, they can be evacuated with helicopters.
Currently, there are around 250 helicopters in India, and non-scheduled operators manage 181 of them, while there is less than one helipad per district.
Recently, the ministry came out with a new helicopter policy, which has made the processes simple. Besides, helicopter corridors are being developed and three such corridors - Mumbai to Pune, Begumpet to Shamsabad, and Ahmedabad to Gandhinagar - are in place.
The government also plans to develop 36 heliports under the regional air connectivity scheme, while 6 of them are already functional.
Emphasising that the foundations are in place to launch the helicopter industry in the country, Scindia said that from a fiscal standpoint regarding customs duty and imports of helicopters, he has sensitised the finance minister and is working on resolving those issues as well.
The minister also stated that eight states and UT's reducing Value Added Tax (VAT) on aviation turbine fuel (ATF) from prohibitive rates of 28-30%% to 1-2% is a "huge achievement" for India's aviation industry in terms of making it more economically viable.
ATF or jet fuel costs account for a significant portion of an airline's operational expenses.