Cheaper jet fuel at the Deve Gowda petrol bunk?

Chief ministers may come, chief ministers may go but superstition goes on merrily in the Silicon Halli that is Karnataka—and Pandit Nehru‘s scientific temper could well go to hell.

S.M. Krishna had the entrance to his official residence changed because it was not vaastu-compliant. And his allegedly “hi-tech” government even sent a vaastu team to Raichur to examine the problems with the thermal plant there. Fortunately, the vaastu “experts” did not suggest that the reactors be moved from South-West to North-East or some such.

H.D. Kumaraswamy may be younger than his father’s bete noire, but he is no less disrespectful of our ancient traditions and glorious laws of life even if they fly in the face of common sense.

Star of Mysore reports today that the helicopter carrying the Chief Minister failed to touch the ground in Hassan for over one-and-a-half hours because—Robert Ripley, krupaya apni kursi ki peti baandh le!—because rahukala had arrived!

The chopper carrying Kumaraswamy, his brother H.D. Revanna, and their bum-chum N. Cheluvarayaswamy arrived near the helipad at about 10.30 am for the launch of “developmental activities” but failed to land, rose again, and started hovering.

Party activists, leaders and officials who had come to welcome the CM became anxious. With no proper information available, the officials became totally confused. At last the helicopter landed at the helipad at 12.01 pm. Yesterday being Friday, rahukala was from 10.30 am to 12 noon. Some sources, however, claimed that the pilot was inexperienced and found it difficult to land the helicopter.

Here’s the math:

The Bell 407 helicopter, a light helicopter that is much in use in India, consumes on average about 200 litres of 100 Octane or Jet A fuel per hour. So, assuming Kumaraswamy’s chopper was of the same class, the helicopter would have consumed 300 litres while hovering above Hassan for 90 minutes.

As of 31 August 2007, one US gallon (3.78 litres) of 100 Octane cost between $4.15 and $6.09. The average price per gallon in Georgia, USA, was $4.95. In other words, a dollar per litre, which is roughly Rs 40.

Again, as of 31 August 2007, one US gallon (3.78 litres) of Jet A cost between $3.90 and $6.25. The average price per gallon in Georgia, USA, was $4.80. In other words, a dollar per litre, which is roughly Rs 40.

Given the wide disparity of fuel prices between America and India—a gallon of gas costs on average $3, or 79 cents per litre, which is about Rs 32, as against the Indian per-litre price of Rs 50-54—it can be reasonably assumed that the cost per litre of helicopter fuel could be anywhere between Rs 60 and Rs 80 in India.

So, 300 litres of helicopter fuel could have cost the State—not the Chief Minister or his brother or their family—a minimum of Rs 18,000 on the inside, Rs 24,000 on the outside.

And all this to ward off what?

As they say, whose-father what-goes.