Russian authorities have demanded over $20 million for rectifying the damage suffered by nuclear submarine INS Chakra , which was dry-docked last week, even as the government is seeking to fix responsibility for the accident.
Defence sources said Russia had quoted $20 million (approximately ₹125 crore) for fixing the submarine's front portion, which was damaged when the submarine was entering the Visakhapatnam harbour. The details of the accident emerged in public in early October last year.
Russian officials have said they would make all the replacement panels in their own facility and would not use any Indian facility. The almost 5x5 feet panels of the sonar dome would be brought to Visakhapatnam and fitted on to the lsubmarine.
In an interview to The Hindu last week, Russian Ambassador Nikolai Kudashev said he was not aware when the nuclear submarine would sail again. “As far as I know, the submarine is under repairs as of now but in the near future it is expected to be back in operation. There is nothing irreversible that happened there. That is what I am aware of.”.
The Defence Ministry did not respond to queries from The Hindu .
Damage to INS Arihant
It may be noted that indigenously built nuclear ballistic missile submarine INS Arihant , which suffered extensive damage because of human error over a year ago, is yet to be back to active sailing. After extensive flushing and replacement of many of its pipes, it was floated recently but sailing it will take more time, the sources said.
As part of the firm stand taken by the government, it is believed to have put on hold the proposal to appoint Inspector General of Nuclear Safety Vice Admiral Srikant as the new Commandant of the New Delhi-based National Defence College (NDC), until responsibility is fixed for the INS Chakra accident.
Vice Admiral Srikant is the senior-most naval officer responsible for nuclear submarines. Lt. Gen. YVK Mohan moved out as NDC commandant early in January to take over as the General Officer Commanding IX Corps headquartered at Yol in Himachal Pradesh.
Denying any specific knowledge of the Ministry’s move, Navy officials admitted that a series of appointments in the Navy are currently waiting to be cleared by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Vice Admiral Srikant’s is also among them.