April 9, 2012

CVC probe sought in Indian Navy's procurement of torpedoes

The Navy's deal for procurement of torpedoes for Scorpene submarines from an Italian company has come in for questioning with a Member of Parliament writing to the Central Vigilance Commission seeking a probe into alleged corruption in the selection.
Jainarayan Prasad Nishad, who had earlier written to Defence Minister AK Antony, has alleged that WASS heavy water torpedo was selected for procurement "without validation of critical parameters at sea for speed and range" as specified in the Request for Proposal (RFP).
The RFP clearly stated that only those vendors who could successfully perform dynamic trials of the offered torpedo would be considered but "this was totally ignored in the case of WASS, Italy and the deal was pushed in favour of WASS, thereby ignoring the technical conditions laid in the RFP, Nishad has said.
Citing "(defence) ministry sources" and articles published in some defence magazines, the JDU MP from Bihar has claimed that in the case of the deal, the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) was "manipulated and violated for pecuniary financial gains".
In his letter to Antony, Nishad has contended that the then DG Acquisition had recommended re-issuance of the RFP as the Defence Procurement Procedure was "not being followed and the RFP was ab-initio defective" but later, the Navy used the "excuse" of urgency to reverse the decision and sent it to the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) for approval to consider WASS "as a resultant single vendor".
Alleging wrongdoings in the process that dates back to 2007 and 2008, the MP claimed that to ensure the RFP was not cancelled, the Navy had "deliberately cleared" another bidder ATLAS Elektronik of Germany at the TEC (Technical Evaluation Committee) stage and rejected it after trials.
"Creating a single vendor scenario through manipulation to overcome the DPP, which has happened in this case, and selecting an inferior product, could lead to the security of the nation being compromised for pecuniary financial gains," he warned in the letter to Antony.
On getting no response from Antony, the MP shot off a letter to CVC Pradeep Kumar along with the one written to the Defence Minister in January this year. "This has vigilance angle," he wrote, requesting probe into the matter "seriously" and take necessary steps to stop any possibility of corruption in the deal.
Earlier, ATLAS Elektronik had also cried foul play and sent letters of complaint to the Defence Ministry.
Meanwhile, reacting to the allegations levelled by Nishad, Navy spokesperson Commander PVS Satish said, "For the moment all I can say is that all acquisitions undertaken by the Indian Navy are done with due care and adherence to laid down procedures".
"Trials were conducted as per the procedures approved by the DAC and were acceptable to both the vendors (in the contract)," he added.
The Navy has plans of procuring around 100 torpedoes for the fleet of its six Scorpene submarines, which are being constructed by the Mazagon Dockyarads Limited (MDL) in partnership with French DCNS.


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