Thursday, March 11, 2010
In the Name of Transparency
It is good to be a democracy, but there are collaterals unknown in Pakistan and ... China.
The Public Accounts Committee says it all: "In the name of transparency, things should not be allowed to linger on for an indefinite period, which would ultimately prove detrimental to the nation's interest. Pakistan has acquired Agosta-90B submarines from the same French firm at a much faster rate."
PAC panel raps govt for failure to augment submarine fleet
Rajat Pandit ,
Times of India
Mar 11, 2010
NEW DELHI: Will somebody in the government wake up? Navy is going blue in the face about its fast-depleting submarine fleet but the government is yet to show any semblance of decisiveness to bolster the country's underwater combat arm.
After a series of articles by TOI, the parliamentary public accounts committee (PAC) too has blasted governments over the last decade for "inordinate and unacceptable delays'' in strengthening the submarine fleet.
"Indecisiveness on part of the decision-makers'' as well as "systemic flaws'' in procurement of submarines has "adversely impacted Navy's operational preparedness'', apart from huge time and cost overruns, says the PAC report tabled in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.
PAC only examined the ongoing Rs 18,798 crore project (P-75) to construct six French Scorpene submarines at Mazagon Docks, which was inked in October 2005 after a delay of nine years.
But a similar story is being repeated in the proposed P-75I project for the second line of submarines. Defence ministry (MoD) continues to drag its feet over the finalisation of the Rs 30,000 crore programme to build another six new-generation submarines with foreign collaboration in India despite Navy repeatedly stressing the `criticality' of fast decision-making.
Rejecting MoD's contention that delays were caused because of the focus on transparency, PAC said, "In the name of transparency, things should not be allowed to linger on for an indefinite period, which would ultimately prove detrimental to the nation's interest.''
"Pakistan has acquired Agosta-90B submarines from the same French firm at a much faster rate,'' it said. In fact, the three-year delay in finalisation of the Scorpene contracts, after commercial negotiations began in 2002, led to a Rs 2,800 crore price escalation and an additional commitment of 27.05 million Euros for procurement of sea-skimming Exocet missiles.
Lamenting that the Indian side `succumbed' to the conditions imposed by their French counterparts, the PAC said, "Since such pressure tactics do not gel well between two sovereign nations, MoD should put across its points firmly in any further negotiations with any country before awarding contracts.''
The Scorpene project, under which one vessel was to roll out every year from 2012 onwards, is already running over two years behind schedule. Moreover, the Cabinet Committee on Security last month approved a cost escalation of around Rs 2,000 crore in the project due to grave errors made in the contracts earlier.
As for P-75I, the bone of contention now is which particular domestic shipyard, public or private, will tie-up with the foreign vendor -- Rosoboronexport (Russian), DCNS/Armaris (French), HDW (German) and Navantia (Spain) are in the race -- to build the submarines with AIP (air-independent propulsion) systems, stealth and land-attack capabilities.
India will be left with only nine out of its present fleet of 16 conventional submarines -- 10 Russian Kilo-class, four German HDW and two obsolete Foxtrot -- by 2012. The number may dip to just five by 2014-2015.