Says problem with engine should be expeditiously sorted out
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence on Thursday strongly recommended that problems with the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) ‘Tejas' project be sorted out to make it operational within the stipulated timeframe, without further cost overruns.
With over Rs.13,000 crore sanctioned for the project during the last 27 years, the Committee, in its latest report tabled in Parliament, said the problem with the engine should be expeditiously sorted out either by importing it or persisting with the existing one.
The project was sanctioned in 1983 with the original cost of Rs.560 crore. Its first phase was completed in April 2004 at a cost of Rs.2,188 crore, including the original sanctioned estimate, it said.
For the second phase, a sum of Rs.3,301.87 crore was sanctioned with a probable date of completion of December 31, 2008. It is now likely to be finished by 2012 with an additional fund of Rs.2,475.78 crore.
In November 2009, the project was accorded sanction to continue full-scale engineering development till December 2018 with an additional cost of Rs.5,302.98 crore.
As regards problem with the engine, the Committee was informed that it had been decided to import a suitable engine to replace Kaveri and technical evaluation of offers received was being conducted. (According to reports, GE 414 and Eurojet were in the race to provide the engine).
“…the Committee concluded that this is a very sorry state of affairs. Even when 27 years have passed since LCA was sanctioned it has still to see the light of the day,'' the report noted.
On the Defence Research and Development Organisation, the Committee expressed serious concern over under utilisation of the allotted amount even as the percentage of allocation to the overall defence budget came down this financial year. It said the Ministry should address these issues.
Among other recommendations, the Committee emphasised on the need to have an independent regulation for the defence estates, a point that emerged during its deliberation in the wake of controversies, including the Sukna land issue.
While the Ministry felt that the existing system is adequate, the Committee felt that land scams such as Sukna affects the image of the Army and the defence services and there is a need for a fool-proof system to regulate the defence estates.
The Committee also noted there was a shortfall of 14,000 officers in the tri-services – Army (11,456), Navy (1,439) and Air Force (1,343).