Thursday, May 03, 2012

Six arms vendors blacklisted for 10 years, defence minister Antony told Rajya Sabha

New Delhi: Defence minister A.K.Antony responding to a supplementary told the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday that six defence vendors have been blacklisted for 10 years for indulging in corrupt practices. Two of them are from India, one each from Russia, Germany, Israel and Singapore.

Antony said that he would answer the question thought it was a supplementary because "I didn't want to evade it. We have nothing to hide." The question was whether any of the defence companies were blacklisted.

On the issue of Tatra trucks purchase, he said a "comprehensive inquiry was being conducted by the CBI. My understanding is that the inquiry is going fast."   He also said that he will "answer extensively" and that he will give a "detailed explanation" during the debate on demands for grants.

"Every purchase of the vehicle (Tatra truck) was made, from 1986 onwards, as per their (the army's) requirement only. Government did not impose its choice," an unusually assertive Antony declared.

He admitted that there were difficulties in procurement because of the pressure brought by foreign and Indian vendors. He also said that there will be delays if something wrong is found and inquiry has to be made. He also referred to the integrity pact involved in defence deal agreements and how every issue is also being referred to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) as well.

When his attention was drawn to the issue of the Nalanda Ordnance Factory, which has not taken off because one of the companies involved in the project, the Israel Military Industries (IMI) has been black listed. He said that the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation ) chairman has been asked to find a suitable solution so that the ordnance factory is kept alive.

When his attention was drawn by BJP's Ravi Shankar Prasad that senior army officers, including those of the lieutenant general's rank, were turning into lobbyists for arms manufacturers, and whether there was a cooling period when the retired officer is not expected to take up an assignment for the arms manufacturers and whether the norms were being reviewed, Antony said that initially the cooling period was for a year and that the standing committee on defence report had recommended a five-year cooling period, which was now being considered by the government.

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