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    Meghalaya suspends Pawan Hans service

    Shillong: The Meghalaya government on Saturday suspended the Pawan Hans helicopter services operating in the state with immediate effect, hours after Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu's helicopter went missing and was found later in Bhutan.

    Transport Minister AT Mondal told PTI that he instructed his office to close down the company's office in Guwahati and not issue any more tickets. Mondal said the license of Pawan Hans to operate in Meghalaya had expired long ago, but due to requirements of the service it was allowed to operate.

    The state, he said, would write to the Centre and call for fresh tenders for operating the service. The lone Pawan Hans helicopter operates from Shillong to Tura via Guwahati and back daily.

    "We have not blacklisted Pawan Hans. They can apply (for license) again, but they have to be competent," Mondal said. "We have been writing to them (Pawan Hans), but there is no response. They are not taking care. The condition of the helicopter is not good," he said.

    Khandu's was the second Pawan Hans helicopter to get into trouble in the Northeast in the last fortnight.

    On April 19, a Pawan Hans helicopter crashed in the mountains of Tawang, bordering Tibet, killing all 17 people on board.

    The helicopter crashed not far away from the helipad and the DGCA had found that proper fire-fighting facilities could have saved lives.