Defence Minister A.K. Antony has promised his Cabinet colleague Praful Patel that he will examine the exclusion of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. from the tender for supplying the IAF with 56 transport aircraft to replace its aging Avro fleet.

Acknowledging receipt of Mr. Patel’s letter, Mr. Antony has asked his officials to go into the issues the Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Minister has raised, the Defence Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

Letter of protest

On Monday, Mr. Patel wrote to Mr. Antony, protesting the manner in which HAL was barred from the bidding. In his letter, a copy of which was marked to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he wondered how a public sector undertaking could be kept out of the bidding for a Rs.12,000-crore deal.

Mr. Patel questioned the rationale behind the Defence Ministry’s decision to allow only private players into the bidding when PSUs were competent enough to handle such contracts. He welcomed encouragement to private players, but said there should be no discrimination against any entity.

As head of the Defence Acquisition Council, Mr. Antony approved the proposal not to allow PSUs to take part in the bidding for the deal under which 16 aircraft would be bought outright from the manufacturer and 40 other pieces would be made at an Indian facility.

Eight foreign companies, which have joined the bid, are now required to choose a local partner to set up an aerospace facility in India.

How can a public sector undertaking be kept out of bidding for a Rs.12,000-crore deal?: Praful Patel