The government owes over Rs 325 crore to cash-strapped Air India with bills pending for VVIP chartered flights to foreign countries, according to an RTI response.
The national carrier, which is on the verge of being privatised, has provided details of pending bills towards various ministries responsible for the VVIP visits, it said in its latest response to the information sought by Commodore (retd) Lokesh Batra.
The details provided in the response dated March 8 shows that Rs 325.81 crore worth of bills for VVIP charter flights are pending as on January 31, 2018.
Of the total pending bills, Rs 84.01 crore have been carried forward from last financial year while the remaining Rs 241.80 crore are from bills generated this year.
The chartered aircraft for VVIPs -- the President, the Vice President and the Prime Minister -- for their visits abroad are provided by Air India which modifies its commercial jets to suit the needs of the travelling dignitaries.
The bills for these aircraft are to be paid from the exchequer by the Defence Ministry, the Ministry of External Affairs Ministry, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Cabinet Secretariat.
The response from Air India said that the highest outstanding amount of Rs 178.55 crore was due from the External Affairs Ministry, followed by the Cabinet Secretariat and the PMO (Rs 128.84 crore), and the Defence Ministry (Rs 18.42 crore).
The reply stated that outstanding bills of Rs 451.71 crore were carried forward while bills of Rs 553.01 crore were generated this year -- a total of Rs 1004.72 crore. Out of this, the government made a payment of Rs 678.91 crore this year.
The payment of Rs 678.91 crore includes Rs 367.70 crore paid towards Rs 451.71 crore bills carried forward from last year and Rs 311.23 crore payment towards bills of Rs 533.01 crore generated this year.
After the payment, the outstanding as on January 31, 2018 stands at Rs 325.81 crore.
In a separate response dated March 5, three days before Air India’s reply, the Civil Aviation Ministry has said the total outstanding bills to be Rs 345.946 crore as on December 31, 2017.
In addition to the VVIP flights, the amount of 345.946 crore also includes outstanding bills of Rs 20.966 crore towards services offered to visiting dignitaries and evacuation missions.
In its response, Air India has given outstanding bills only for VVIP flights till January 31, 2018.
The response provided by the Civil Aviation Ministry also includes a break up of outstanding amount towards various ministries and details of invoices which shows that out of outstanding invoices of Rs 182.22 crore towards flights of the President, Rs 174.22 crore was paid and Rs 8 crore was pending.
In the case of the Vice President, out of outstanding invoices of Rs 414.28 crore, Rs 216.02 crore was paid and payment of Rs 198.254 crore was yet to be made as on December 31, 2017, it said.
For the visits of the Prime Minister, out of total outstanding invoices of Rs 272.80 crore, Rs 154.07 crore was paid while a payment of Rs 118.724 crore was still awaited, it said.
In addition to the services for the VVIP flights, the bills of Rs 11.594 crore for daring Air India operations to evacuate Indian citizens from Cairo, Iraq, and Malta (for citizens stuck in Libya) between 2011 and 2014 are still pending with the MEA, the civil aviation ministry said.
A bill of Rs 23 lakh for the fuel charges of the flight to the United States carrying relief material in the aftermath of Katrina hurricane in September 2005 is also pending with the Defence Ministry, it said.
Bills worth Rs 9.376 crore are also pending towards flights for various dignitaries including the heads of the states, the ministry said.