New Delhi: Ahead of elections in Uttar Pradesh starting February 8, the Election Commission has relaxed the conditions for use of aircraft in campaigning and its expenditure monitoring.

As per the relaxed terms for use of aircraft for campaigning, political parties or candidates using the aircraft would now have to inform the District Electoral Officers (DEO) concerned 24 hours ahead of the proposed visit.

Earlier the parties/candidates had to inform the EC at least three days in advance and provide details of those using the aircraft - both aircrafts and helicopters, for the purpose of monitoring expenditure of election campaign.

This was objected to by many political parties and candidates and many representations had been received by the Commission to relax the conditions for use of aircraft during the election process for the purpose of expenditure monitoring.

As per fresh instructions, no prior permission for landing or take off of aircrafts (including fixed wing aircraft) and helicopters at commercial airports shall be required from District Election Officer (DEO) or Returning Officer (RO).

However, at airstrips and helipads, which are not used for commercial purpose, application will have to be made either by the candidate or by the political party to the DEO concerned,
at least 24 hours before landing, mentioning the details of travel plan, place of landing in the district and names of passengers in the aircraft/helicopters so that DEO can make adequate arrangements for security and law and order issues.

The Air Traffic Control (ATC) in commercial airports shall inform the CEO of the state about the travel plan of private aircraft or helicopters as early as possible, preferably half an hour in advance.

However, during the election process, the ATC shall keep record of all such private aircraft or helicopters, landing and taking off from commercial airports including type of aircraft, the company which owns/leases the aircraft, time of landing, time of take off and passenger manifest, route plan etc.

The EC has asked the ATC to make a copy of this information available to the Chief Electoral Officer of the state concerned within three days after the date of landing/take off and the CEO shall make such information available to the Expenditure Observer for making necessary verification during inspection.

The ATC shall also make the record available for inspection by Expenditure Observer whenever required.

The Air Traffic Control (ATC) in commercial airports shall inform the CEO of the state about the travel plan of private aircraft or helicopters as early as possible, preferably half an hour in advance.

At non-commercial airstrips and helipads, the EC has directed DEOs to issue permission on the same day on priority basis on receipt of applications.

Every candidate shall also inform the Returning Officer concerned in writing within three days after the landing of the aircraft/helicopter, about the hiring charges paid/payable to the company owning/leasing the aircraft/helicopter, and name of the political party, if the party has borne the expense for the hiring.

The EC has also asked the political parties to submit details of aircraft and sorties used during the election campaign in a state to Election Commission/CEO of the state concerned a consolidated statement within 75 days of completion of assembly election or 90 days of completion of Lok Sabha election.

(Agencies)