Imminent shortage of specialised trucks to carry missiles, heavy loads

An imminent shortage of specialised trucks to carry missiles and other heavy loads has led to India listing a joint venture between the Russian company Kamaz with Vectra as a priority project.

An earlier Vectra joint venture with Tatra was the subject of a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation after the then Army chief, General V.K. Singh, had said he was offered a bribe of Rs. 14 crore to clear sub-standard Tatra trucks.

“The problem was somewhere else. Whatever decision we take will be based on a full understanding of the issues and about what are no go areas. There has been valuable contribution by the company. But there are parts that are questionable. These should be isolated and accounted for,’’ said External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid when asked by The Hindu why the Government was bringing in a company that was earlier hit by charges of malfeasance.

While assuring that everything will be done through a transparent and legal process, Mr. Khurshid said the Kamaz-Vectra joint venture was only one of the priority items in the Indian wish list during talks with Russia.

“We shouldn’t consider it out because of one negative element. This aspect will be considered,’’ he added.

Other sources pointed out that it was the public sector Bharat Earth Movers Limited that had faced Gen. (retd.) Singh’s ire for selling the trucks at double the cost at which they were imported. Moreover, Belorussian company KMZT’s “Giant’’ vehicles are also in the running and the Government may also invite other companies such as Mann and Tata Motors.

With the 2010 order for 788 vehicles having been put on hold due to the CBI investigation and the projected requirement estimated at 5,000, an early decision is required on a new vendor, they pointed out, especially in the 8x8 configuration (termed the work horse of the Indian Army) and even higher for carrying missiles such as Agni.

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