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Updated: April 3, 2012 14:04 IST

New details emerge on Tatra truck deal 

    Praveen Swami
    Vinay Kumar
Comment (43)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
A file photo of Tatra truck mounted with the Tactical Control Reporter Radar on the 58th Republic Day celebrations. (Inset): London-based millionaire businessman Ravi Rishi.
The Hindu
A file photo of Tatra truck mounted with the Tactical Control Reporter Radar on the 58th Republic Day celebrations. (Inset): London-based millionaire businessman Ravi Rishi.

CBI questions London millionaire again

Even as Central Bureau of Investigation detectives have begun questioning Ravi Rishi, the London-based millionaire businessman at the heart of the showdown between the Defence Ministry and Chief of the Army Staff V.K. Singh, fresh details have begun to emerge of the truck deal that precipitated the crisis.

Rajan Mukherjee, the general manager of West Bengal-based Ural India, has told The Hindu that General Singh — then General Officer-Commanding of the Eastern Command — had requested the firm to provide trucks for testing in 2008, after Tatra trucks sold by Mr. Rishi's firm “miserably failed 17 Mountain for performing Quick Reaction Team and reconnaissance duties in [the] super-high altitude areas of northern Sikkim.”


“During the trials,” Mr. Mukherjee said in an e-mail to The Hindu, “the Tatra vehicle developed defects in engine assembly, whereas Ural's engine performance was satisfactory even after running about 600 km at high altitude.”

Mr. Rishi owns Vectra, a conglomerate which has a controlling stake in Czech and Slovak-based specialist truck firm Tatra, which has supplied the Indian Army since 1986.

Rashi Verma, a Joint Secretary at the Defence Ministry, had said last week that the government had “never received any complaint from the armed forces” — a statement which suggests the Eastern Command either chose not to pass on its problems with the Tatra to the army headquarters in New Delhi, or that its reports were suppressed by higher authorities.

In an exclusive interview to The Hindu published on March 26, General Singh had said he was offered a Rs. 14-crore bribe, which, it emerged, was linked to an officer allegedly representing Tatra to clear a consignment of 600 trucks.

There is no information available so far if Ural India's trucks were the sole platform tested by the Eastern Command in Northern Sikkim and if so, why. Ural is co-owned by Kolkata-based magnate J.K. Saraf, who knew Gen. Singh during his tenure as Eastern Army Commander. There is no allegation, however, of the relationship having caused improper influence to be exercised.

Mr. Mukherjee's claims, however, stand in stark contrast to earlier statements by VRS Natarajan, the head of public-sector giant BEML, which co-manufactures Tatra trucks in India. Mr. Natarajan claimed that Ural India's trucks had been knocked out of competition in the ongoing trials, a claim Mr. Mukherjee has denied in his e-mail to The Hindu, adding that his firm is considering “appropriate action.”

The BEML chief, however, has since been backed by Defence Research and Development Organisation chief V.K. Saraswat, who said Tatra trucks were “outstanding.” Both BEML and Tatra have said they are considering legal action against General Singh, but provided no details of their course of action.

Army sources said the problem encountered in Sikkim could have been related to the Tatra truck's engine, which is designed for rugged battlefield use, compromising high-altitude performance in return for lower risks of breakdown.

CBI officials refused comment on the issues they had discussed with Mr. Rishi, but the businessman has been barred from leaving India until further notice.

He was earlier questioned by the agency officials last week, soon after the CBI registered an FIR in the case. CBI officials were also poring over and analysing a number of documents seized during raids in Delhi, Noida and Bangalore.

Apart from Mr. Rishi, the FIR refers to unknown officials of BEML, Vectra and the Army. The case was registered under provisions of the Indian Penal Code relating to criminal conspiracy to cheat and under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The investigators are tasked with looking into all purchases of Tatra trucks made from 1997, when Vectra took control of Tatra. Since 1986, the Army has purchased some 7,000 Tatra trucks to transport troops and artillery.

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A top of technical company need not be necessarily be a technical hand. A good visionary and able administrator, capable of making business profits and inbound personalities can manage the organisation. Here the technical competency of Mr.VRS Natarajan is not at all the question.
The question is ?
1. With evidence to previous scams, all such scams have high profile political/government authorities involvement and who are those hidden profile ? CBI to root them all out in TATRA !
2. Are we incapable of producing a truck,indigeniously designed and developed ? Still we say super power, not ashmed really ?
3. If trucks price is inflated 100% what is CAG doing then ?
What is MoD doing then ? Will they wake up only scam information scam spread over India's length & breadth
4.Media,for their popularity & marketing purposes should refrain in any professional's character assassination until he is proved convict.
Editors and journals to be more professional and matured in reporting.

from:  Senthil Prabu
Posted on: Apr 18, 2012 at 00:31 IST

Politicians their sons,relatives all will spoil this country.I think its time for a second freedom fight !!!But its not like the first one which ended on 1947,But this is against the greed,corruption and against irresponsible governance.There are only few politicians with strong backbone .For others its made of rubber purchased using the black money. Leaders with great vision and responsibility towards the public can be viewed only in Films (not today's films').

from:  arun
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 19:13 IST

kudos to THE HINDU!
Such journalism is the need of the hour.

from:  ess p
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 16:32 IST

From the writeup it appears, that 2G is a minor affair. But in all the deals, there has been massive corruption. As Vidya Subramaniam clearly pointed out in an earlier write up, the superpowers of the channels are churning out their own versions of all these affairs to obfuscate the truth. The CBI may not succeed as it is under the Home Ministry which is itself not above board. Everything will go the Bofors way.

from:  Dr S.Srinivasan
Posted on: Apr 5, 2012 at 00:38 IST

CAG reports on BEML need to pored over to see if these imports and
sale to Defence forces were audited and reported. Other interesting
facts may come out.

from:  Atma Gandhi
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 14:32 IST

If 7000 Tatra trucks are involved at being sold to India at double the going rate in Europe, i.e. at 80 lakh Rs instead of 40 lakh Rs, then are we talking of being overcharged by 350 million pounds sterling? A lot of money on somebody's bank account! Enough money to bribe everyone and let it be kept quiet.

from:  R Kumar
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 12:48 IST

"New details emerge on Tatra" and these are quotes from Mr , Manager of the rival
company Ural. What did you expect him to say, that Tatra is good ? Slipping standards
Hindu.... Slipping standards... Expected better journalism from Praveen Swamy.

from:  Anish
Posted on: Apr 4, 2012 at 03:01 IST

Now,in this debate there are three products are involved.1 IIT,2 NDA,3 IAS(Govt).The controversial persons had their learnings from these elite academy.Unfortunately, these training academies don't have a course for Honesty!

Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 22:27 IST

Sales where institutes and offices pay more than usual exists throughout in India. Many institutes buys computer at higher rates than available locally. But those are smaller deals and mostly does not include bribe. When it comes to army it is much serious as it affects our national defense system. Let us hope the recent AIRCRAFT DEAL was also not made in a similar way.

from:  Chitra
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 17:39 IST

As rightly commented earlier, all is not well with the defense purchases inspite of several scandals like Bofors, Howitzer-submarines,etc over a long period. It may be recalled that British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher flew in specifically for the purpose of influencing Rajiv Gandhi to clear all the pending Helicopter supplies stalled due to several accidents. (Pl don't remember our Praribha Patil's Rs 206 crores foreign visits and the achievements if any ). Are there no honest men in the defense services to expose such heinous crimes ? What about the Audit of Defense and the CAG ? Why the top bosses failed to streamline the procurement system in the most fool proof manner ? At least there is a twilight in the regime of Mr.A.K.Antony who is said to be a very Honest politician.But for Mr.V.K.Singh's exposing the scam boldly, such heinous crimes would go unchecked in the future also.

from:  Ramamoorthy
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 17:20 IST

Now the issue is handle by CBI let the probing agency to submit it report after thorough investigation to know the facts of matter. Its an right and high time to central government to come up with more transparent and accountable manner of procurement in defense deal to overcome such allegations happened past also. Form an purchasing committee of comprising different walks of life to take an final call before adding any ammunition to the defense sector including modernization to avoid kickback culture. World arms manufactures always had an interest in selling old stock to countries like us by preparing threatening report from any agency to provoke countries to rush in acquiring more and more ammunition to strengthen its force at the cost of outdated equipments. But these issues should not be discussed in public for couple of reasons that it will let enemy countries to take chance and at the same time fellow countryman to think that if possible attacks happens are we in safe with

Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 15:59 IST

Tatra is a cotemporary of Bofors. The procedure for the two deals should
have been similar. It is quite likely that the party in power at that
time, might be involved. No wonder that the CBI's brief is restricting
its investigation to the past 15 years. It is a very calculated move.
The aim is to try and involve the NDA in this muddle,like in the case of
2G. Hope the courts will see through this move. The unnatural silence of
the Jokers Brigade, led by the famous propagant of the "No Loss"
theory,adds credence to the assumption, that the GOP is subtly involved.

from:  Ramamurthi
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 15:55 IST

Way back in 1967(as 18 year old),a friend of mine who was working in a furniture show room in Broadway (Chennai) confided in me the first taste of how government sales were done. At that time the six and half feet locker was Rs.550/= (or so.) One day an army man came, saw the steel cupboards, discussed with his boss and then they called him to their table. The army man said that he would come with his boss next day morning and all those steel cupboards which he had selected should each sport new price tags at Rs.100/= more. His company did supply next day some steel cupboards to the army office, the details i forgot.What transpired between his boss and the army man was not revealed to him, may be he was also too young to understand. If 2x2 is four then 20x20, 200x200, 2000x2000 and so on... doesn't require super intelligence to comprehend.

from:  M V Rangaraajan
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 13:25 IST

Corruption ruining India - this is what achieved after independence - poverty, illiteracy and pocket full for the corrupt including mafia. Did Mahatma Gandhi knew that he was fighting for independence only for this to happen - maybe he would have changed his mind.

from:  Paul
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 12:55 IST

Corruption in the army is not new. It existed since the time unknown.Even a pin purchased involves kickbacks. The organisation is badly engrossed with groupism, lobbying, nepotism, sycophancy leading to demoralisation. Professionalism is fast fading. Even the general officers have not fought a real war in actal combat in face of the enemy as the entire breed is post Indo Pak war of 1971. There are very few rather exceptions who are morally robust otherwise majority are crooks, cunning, immoral, dishonest and corrupt. General V K Singh may shout from the rooftop now but his silence for over 18 months and revision of DOB clandestinely does not grant him a clean chit. If the matter is ampartially investigated, lot many skeletons will come out of the cupboard. If Tejinder was lobbying for Tatra, Gen VKSingh had interests in Ural. Every jocker is naked in the bath tub but are systematically protected by vested interests. The present matter also will die a natural death as usual.

from:  yuvak patil
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 12:47 IST

The fact of the matter is Tatra Trucks are being bought at an exorbitant
price. I believe that they are bought by the suppliers at a cost of Rs 40 lakhs and sold to the Government for Rs 110 lakhs.

from:  Freak
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 12:33 IST

As I understand, there is a Financial Adviser (Defence Services) whose job is to look into the deals. Often the Financial Adviser scuttles the important defence procurement. Many a times, the objections raised are nothing but acts of a control freak who loves to wield the red tape. I wonder what the successive Financial Advisers were doing with the Tatra-Vectra deals. Were they snoring? The rot is in the MoD. Will anyone ever probe the fellows there?

from:  Biswadip Mitra
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 12:13 IST

The problem seems that General V K Singh wanted to bring in URAL the
Russian truck but Tatra is well settled in the army , having served it
for more than 25 years. Both are from the communist era but Tatra has been more famous . In view of the Generals preference of Ural it looks like he was not approving the next batch of Tatra trucks nor has he recorded any reasons anywhere.
General V K Singh has made a fool of the CBI and Anthony because in a hurry they have impounded the passport of Mr Ravi Rishi a UK national. Now the 7000 force of Tatra trucks in the army is at his mercy and he will stop supplying spares.The British government will involve itself and Mr Ravi Rishi will need to be realeased . And lo behold the Indian Army fleet of 7000 Tatra trucks will be beached without spares. General V K Singh would have achieved his intention of making the Indian Army lame and lo behold he will enter with his Ural trucks.

from:  raghavan
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 12:06 IST

I think MM Singh should not be spared this time, its time we arrested this man and his entire cabinet and put on trial for gross negligence of duty, nothing less than this would do justice for this country.

from:  xaviersurender
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 11:34 IST

Seriously, I have been happy to find this authentic news site for India which seems to be doing real job. Thank you very much for not being ad heavy, junk news containing news site. I really appreciate the efforts taken here.

from:  Shail
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 11:14 IST

Tatra truck dealers (including BEML) will say it is the best and the Ural truck manufacturers will say theirs is best. What happened to the evaluation done of both? Who did it and what was the report of evaluation? Why Tatra was chosen? These require answers and the Hindu correspondents should have investigated on these lines. I hope the CAG and the CBI will do the needful.

from:  R.M.Murthy
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 10:51 IST

"the Strength of the Wolf is the Pack,the strength of the pack is the wolf".This Pack comprising of MP's,IAS,Media, corrupt generals,DRDO boss,BEML boss etc have all been launching a co-ordinated attack on Army Chief for exposing & fighting corruption. The Indian Establishment considers it its "Birthright" to indulge in Looting,Corruption,inefficiency,Blatant lies,Other criminal acts etc.But new facts & a full inquiry will reveal the truth-not only about high pricing & deficiencies about Tatra trucks but also the scams & corruption in DRDO,MOD,Army procurement,ASC corruption etc..Indian Army is no holy cow either..P.S.In all top armies of world eg USA,UK,The top meritorious officers go to the ARMS[Infantry,Armoured] but in India almost all top officers give 1st preference for ASC & ordnance-Which are notorious for corruption..The result is that our Field Commanders are often second grade officers envious of ASC & Ordnance officers..The Hindu should investigate This Demographic Shift.!

from:  Dr.R.K.Uppal
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 10:43 IST

Irrespective of whether TATRA trucks are good or defective,if money or any other favour has been done to rulers, administraters or military officials it could not be accepted.I believe that in India, no transaction between Govt. and Private people is made without any favour from the private people.

Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 10:16 IST

I really started liking this in the lot in Indian Media...Congratulations guys for the great work and honest reporting...when you read other crap newspapers(leading one looks like a porno) you kind of wonder on what basis they are leading newspapers???

from:  Deora
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 10:11 IST

I am shocked to see that after whistle blown by Gen VK Singh , our own Indians are now against countrys interest including Ravi Rishi British citizen. The MOD Babus and BEML Babus are no doubt biggest culprit, since Mr Hanumanthappa had already reported this to MOD in 2009 much before Gen VK singh reported this to press.
Our country is out for sale by these ministers and beaurocrats

from:  Sammy
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 10:08 IST

To where the India is heart breaking to see this types of news. In every field - A to Z, are affected the virus of Greedy people; They are simply selling their own mother land, the security of their own mother land, the pride of India. What is the solution ?? I think the best way to remove the dirt is ....remove/reduce the power of politics/politicians!!

from:  Gopi
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 10:02 IST

Pity, a country boasting to become super power is short of 'not-so-sophisticated' but a vital technology of Army Trucks. We have such a huge R&D wing, so called DRDO and many other, GOK what they do. Even if we make inferior trucks things could change over a period of time, if the local manufacturer is given a chance; but going outside to buy this technology is undermining our development. Perhaps, this is done purely in the interest of certain individuals. Thanks to Hindu.

from:  Sasi, Erode
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 09:48 IST

The price of the truck is the main game here! It is overpriced by 100%.Relative merits and de-merits are another issue.All army personnel must disclose their assets on retirement and all senior officers must be probed for disproportionate assets.Raise taxes year after year for the poor middle class Indian to feather the nests of these Politicians and Brass!BEML a Navrathna must be thorougly probed for taking the country for a ride.

from:  stan
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 09:19 IST

Strange! Here's a complaint by the Chief of Army Staff -- the user --
saying the truck in question is substandard and he was being bribed to
approve the deal. And yet what happens? An insensitive Defence Minister -- of all people -- tasks the police cops to question the General! Could we not find a group of uniformed men, serving or retired or both, to do the probe, given that it all concerns our Army and its requirements?

from:  Dharmarajan
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 08:41 IST

The CMD of BEML is NOT qualified for this high profile job. How can he certify that Tatra is the Best ? How can our Nation afford to have such highly corrupt and inefficient people at the helm of affairs? CBI should check the antecedents of the current CMD and his relationship with Mr Ravi Rishi. If the Defence Minister continues the CMD in his job, it would amount to shielding the corrupt at the cost of the Nation's defence. This is another Mega Scam waiting to be unveiled !

from:  Anil
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 08:26 IST

The corruption in Defence procurement is certainly going to affect the recruitment in the Army,and the other wings of Defence forces. Children of politicians,and rich people do not seek out a career in Defence forces. Even the children of upper middle class are more interested in career in the information technology sector,banking,IAS, and engineering among others. That leaves out only children of the poor people who want to make career in the Defence forces,for economic compulsions. Children of top Defence officers become agents in Defence deals. The issue of corruption in Defence deals should also be looked from the angle of recruitment also The country should promote indigenisation. We have a robust industrial base,40 Ordanance factories,DRDO. What is lacking is favourable government policies for close cooperation between the private and the public sector,and to tap the talent of students of engineering colleges andthe IITs.

from:  DeendayalLulla
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 08:18 IST

Your reporter has missed to add issue of overpricing over suply of Tetra Trucks in this news.

from:  harshi
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 07:56 IST

The root cause of the story appears to be over-reliance on the sole-supplier of this particular type of vehicle. Is truck making a rocket science? Why can't Tatas and Ashok Leyland develop this type of vehicle? Competition will bring down the price of this vehicle, this the elementary principle of economics. Why have we relied on Tatra for more than 26 years. Otherwise, we will continue to pay hefty price to hidden middlemen as we have no other option.

from:  Pramod Patil
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 07:32 IST

The BEML Chief VRS Natarajan is a non technical man. He was a Director Personnel of ECIL,before becoming CMD of BEML. Even in private company a non technical man cannot become a Chief of a highly technical organisation. Then how come VRS Natarajan was appointed BEML Chief without technical qualifications. This is government,. VRS Natarajan was a nominee of DMK that too the invisible corrupt man Murasili Maran’s nominee to make money. Let us wait for CBI investigation .

from:  Appan
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 07:00 IST

So its one company vs another. The Army and GOI have left holding the
bag. That is why a transparent and well laid out procedure with a
detailed check list is required; of course a time limit for any such

from:  RGKrishnan
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 06:59 IST

It is unfortunate, that contrary to the public perception, that only a few in the Army are rotten eggs, people who have relations in the Army would vouch for the rank corruption in the Army in all its three services, barring a few. It is a priveleged club, where the lapses of the officers are covered by the seniority that they hold. There are layers and layers of corruption and once their funds are passed by the Parliament, they become a holy cow. From the Raksha Mantri downwards, upto the foot soldier, all are steeped in corruption, the magnitude differing by the limitations of the designation one holds, till one is retired. After retirement, these same officers, would join iternational arms dealers to denude our country of its safety, and compromise on their integrity. One of my relatives who was in the Army Medical Core, had to eat humble pie, and accept sub-standard medicines, as well as spurious ones, all because his then Chief was in collusion with the medicine suppliers.

from:  Vaidyanathan Pushpagiri
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 06:24 IST

It is apparent that BEML in collusion with senior officials in the Defence Ministry and Ravi Rishi was inflating the price of Tatra Trucks and the huge profit BEML/Rishi made at the expense of Tax Payers was sharing the decision making parties. It has been reported that BEML was getting the trucks in knocked down condition and assemlled them at BEML and sold to Mof D at highly inflated prices.That is the reason why BEML did not bother to indigenize its production even in 25 years. Officails in Mof D also did not press for the indigenization as they would have lost the share in the loot. It is also interesting that even CAG also did not try to find out the price at which Tatra Trucks were sold to other foreign countries by the actual manufacturer.Even now this can be done and that will give us an idea about the loss the nation suffered through the machinations of BEML and Defence Ministry in collusion with Ravi Rishi.

from:  KJ Pappachen
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 06:11 IST

it has become a routine after the Bofors gun deal, that any deal is always follow4ed by a big underhand deal under the table,which is unavoidable and it is no wonder that this cancerous disease has got into army cadre as well, as there is always human every where.
Best law will be from Islam,which puts a stop for all malpractices,which is not workable in india, as even murdere is given a life imprisonment only.

from:  vaidya
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 04:31 IST

I hope a national newsmagazine which comes in an environmentally
unfriendly plastic cover, along with unreadable supplements, which
painted General VK Singh as a traitor for his timing of the bribe
announcement (refuted by your correspondent), for leaking the letter
to the PM (refuted by the IB) and for revealing the existence of the
III corps (which has been on wikipedia for a very long time) is
feeling suitably ashamed as the Hindu piles on scoop after scoop on
this issue. Kudos to your correspondents and the young editor for
some great journalism.

from:  James Gurung
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 03:51 IST

Its a very sorry state of affairs in the Defence Establishment. The country cannot manufacture a truck and wants to be a Super Power. If you cannot manufacture something, its OK.. but purchase the right stuff. Not sure why the Public Sector companies should enter into deals with shay arms dealers like Rishi, they should approach the defence companies directly. I smell a rat here !

from:  Kumar
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 03:28 IST

This is a sad phase for India. Never before has the Indian Defense
establishment come to be questioned, save for the Bofors scenario where
rather it was the political realm that came under fire. Its a shame that
AK Antony has to be defense minister when this happens! Considering that
his own countryman VK Krishna Menon (whatever maybe said of the man) at
an earlier stage set the standards in a way for what is now the Indian
Army. Even after the Thimmaiah resignation incident, one cant help but
think, do we see a dip in the class of people now in charge of things?

from:  Rakesh Nandakumar
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 03:09 IST

Bofors Vs Sofma
Tatra Vs Ural
Rafale Vs Eurofighter
The story goes on without the public knowing who is the clear winner in the competition.

from:  Syed
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 02:53 IST

It seems that there is some kind of fudging and attempt of bribe to win the contracts. Defense procurement should always proceed on committee recommendations with several stages of evaluation. Once an award is made, there should be at least 90 days to competitors to challenge the award. Also, underbidding should be prevented and can be done easily by asking the CAG to evaluate the cost of the bidders.

from:  K.V. Rao
Posted on: Apr 3, 2012 at 00:24 IST
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