Thursday, April 5, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

CVC report on defence deals under study: MoD
Navy’s bid to clear air on Barak missiles
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 4
The report on major defence deals submitted by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) last week is being examined by top officials of the ministry.

“The CVC’s report on defence deals submitted last week is under examination of the government and action on it would be outlined in due course,” said Mr B. G. Verghese, the new information consultant of the MoD, at a briefing organised by the Navy to clarify the allegations levelled in the Tehelka tapes regarding the purchase of Barak missiles and spares and other equipment for ships from Russia.

Admitting that there was a great variance in the prices at which it was getting spares and equipment from Russia for its ships and submarines, MoD officials said New Delhi had taken up with Moscow at a “political level” the streamlining of the supply of defence spares by eliminating agents.

They, however, did not rule out the existence of middlemen on the other side of defence deals.

This is the second attempt by the service establishment to clear the air about the ‘controversial’ defence deals expose made in the Tehelka tapes. Earlier on March 30, the Army had attempted to set the record straight on the T-90 tanks and the Krasnopol missiles from Russia.

Mr Verghese and Vice-Admiral Arun Prakash, Chief of Personnel at the Naval Headquarters, here, said since the break-up of the erstwhile Soviet Union, all three services had been facing problems in the acquisition of spares and armaments. On many occasions, submarines and warships had been grounded and efforts were on to streamline supplies.

Referring to allegations made by Rear Admiral S. V. Purohit on some of Russian spares being brought at exorbitant rates — deals which had come under scrutiny of the CVC’s report — Admiral Prakash said, “The Navy hardly had the means to judge whether spares offered were of genuine quality and were offered at right prices”.

The Admiral said under the new Russian system, India was forced under presidential decree to deal with designated arms agents, adding that efforts were now on at political level to ensure direct supplies from manufacturers.

Asked if ousted Naval Chief Admiral Bhagwat had been vindicated on the issue of supply of spares and presence of agents in defence deals with Russia, Admiral Prakash said the truth about the allegations would come out in course of time.

On the Barak deal, the Naval Chief of Personnel said the Navy had projected way back in 1988 for the adaption of indigenous Trishul surface-to-air shipborne missile for use by the force.

He said the acquisition of the anti-missile system had developed urgency in 1992, with induction by Pakistan and slippages in Trishul programme.

He said Barak system had been selected after evaluating anti-missile systems from the USA, France, Britain and Russia with Naval staff requirements defined.

Admiral Prakash said a joint DRDO and Naval team had witnessed successful Barak trials in 1995 carried out in the Mediterranean and the then Defence Minister had accorded approval of the induction of seven systems, including one for aircraft carrier INS Viraat.

The Admiral said while the Barak anti-missile system had been installed on board INS Viraat in 1997, the Kargil conflict had compelled the Naval Headquarters to press for the installation of the remaining six systems on other major warships and the Cabinet Committee on Security had approved the deal in March, 2000.

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