Our defence purchase deals have always been suspect (Jan.2), and over the last few decades every one of them has turned out to be a bad story.
It is distressing that India has to acquire products from abroad even though we have our own indigenous defence research organisations and manufacturing units. There is not even the transfer of blueprints of weapon technology. The cancellation of the AgustaWestland deal at the eleventh hour, one among the Congress’ last-minute anti-corruption measures, will not yield results.
Though the CBI has filed a case, it has been reluctant to file any charge sheet till date. Does the UPA think that citizens have a poor memory? The AgustaWestland website says that the price tag of an AW101 ‘VVIP’ helicopter is $18.2 million. For 12 helicopters, this works out to Rs.1,200 crore. How did it become Rs.3,726 crore? Kargil and Arunachal Pradesh, where the helicopters were supposed to have been deployed, are at a height of 18,000 feet and India wanted a craft that could operate at this height. It is also known that this requirement was changed at the last minute to 13,500 ft. and the deal concluded. It is also a fact that 45 per cent of the total contract value has been paid. This is the same company that supplied 21 helicopters for $65 million in 1985. Two crashed in 1988 and 1989, with fatalities. In 1991, these helicopters were withdrawn from service and auctioned for a scrap value of $900,000. With all these facts available, why is the CBI reluctant to act?
The government has finally scrapped the balance order of nine helicopters as if to make us believe that action has been taken in this shoddy deal. It received three craft worth Rs.900 crore against a payment of Rs.1,260 crore already made. Now that the deal has been scrapped, the Congress owes us an explanation as to how the extra Rs.360 crore paid will be recovered, in addition to the bribe money. The Indian government must approach the International Court of .
Keywords: AgustaWestland deal