Government auditor notes benchmark cost of Rs. 4,871.5 crore for 12 VVIP choppers was “unreasonably high”
Even as the CBI probes allegations of graft in procurement of VVIP choppers from AgustaWestland, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India has detected several instances of deviations from the rules in the deal.
A retired IAF Chief has already been questioned and a separate anti-graft trial is on in Italy as well.
In a report tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, the CAG said the benchmark cost of Rs.4,871 crore for 12 VVIP choppers was “unreasonably high,” exceed as it did AgustaWestland’s offer by around Rs. 900 crore.
It said the decision to buy four more choppers, besides the eight originally planned purchases, was unwarranted given the low utilisation levels of the existing VVIP helicopters.
The CAG questioned the then IAF Chief’s recommendation to conduct trials abroad. Besides, the helicopter models assessed during AgustaWestland’s flight trials were not those for which bids were submitted.
The specification of 1.8 metres as minimum cabin height, the auditor felt, served no purpose other than to restrict competition, “resulting in a single vendor situation.”
“The purpose of re-framing qualitative requirements to avoid a single vendor situation could not be met because even after the revision, the acquisition process led to a single vendor situation and the AW-101 was selected,” the report noted.
The report found ambiguity and irregularity in the offsets obligations AgustaWestland had promised. Some of the seven programmes the firm had projected under the offsets contract were not compliant with the then purchase policy and many ineligible companies were named as offset partners.