Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar’s helicopter trips cost 273% more than those of KP CM Mehmood Khan, reveal six months of data obtained in a right-to-information request.
The June to November 2019 data was provided by the KP Administration and Punjab Chief Minister’s Office for an RTI application filed by this reporter.
CM Buzdar took 68 flights. They cost Rs3.73 million. His total was 51 hours and 55 minutes of flying time. This came to an average cost of Rs72,000 per hour. This is 273 percent higher than the fuel cost of the helicopter used by KP CM Mehmood Khan.
The KP CM took 77 flights from June to November 2019. They cost Rs1.404 million. During these flights, the chief minister used the helicopter a total of 72 hours and 50 minutes and this came to an average cost of Rs19,264 per hour. During these visits, more than 192 party leaders, workers and government servants accompanied the chief minister. The cost per passenger came to Rs7,314.
During the 68 helicopter trips that CM Buzdar took, a total of 235 people came along for the ride. The per passenger cost for this helicopter use came to Rs15,906, which is more than double the KP helicopter per passenger cost of Rs7,314.
The break-up of CM Mehmood Khan’s helicopter rides show that he took 14 trips to Islamabad, five to Swat and three to Besham. In June 2019, he used his official helicopter 10 times, in July two, 24 in August, 34 in September, 29 in October and 14 in November.
Unlike Punjab CM Usman Buzdar, the KP CM did not use helicopter for Governor House visits or for aerial surveillance.
How this data on helicopter use was obtained
The RTI request on the use of helicopters by the chief ministers of KP and Punjab was filed in November 2019 to the Administration Department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Chief Minister Secretariat, Lahore under the provinces’ right to information laws.
Initially, the Punjab CM Office refused to share the information and claimed that it was exempted under Section 13 of the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act, 2013. After the intervention of the Punjab Information Commission on a complaint by this reporter, however, the CM’s office shared the data.
It took the KP Administration Department more than eight months to respond to the RTI request which they are otherwise supposed to do within 14 working days.
An information request was also filed to the Sindh Chief Minister’s Secretariat, requesting the similar data. Neither the Secretariat nor the Sindh Information Commission responded to the RTI request filed by this reporter.
Shehzad Yousafzai is an Islamabad-based freelance journalist. He tweets at @TheShehzad and can be reached at email@example.com