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Friday, 21 May 2010

From Today's Papers - 21 May 2010






Top priority to coastal security, says Antony
Says need to firmly secure maritime borders, wants focus on Andamans
Tribune News Service  New Delhi, May 20 Declaring that the government has attached the highest priority to coastal security, Defence Minister AK Antony today asked the top brass of Navy to take immediate steps to ensure that proposals approved by the ministry were put in place at the earliest.  Addressing the Naval Commanders' Conference here, he said: “Coastal security is a very high priority for the UPA Government. Navy plays a key role in this with heavy and overall responsibility. The government has given a go-ahead to boost manpower and infrastructure of the Navy and the Coast Guard. It is now the responsibility of all of you to ensure that these are put in place at the earliest and used effectively and efficiently for coastal security”.  He said the government was fully committed to the modernisation of the Navy and funds would not be allowed to become a constraint in this regard. However, the onus of utilising allocated funds, optimally and judiciously, lay collectively on both the Navy and the Defence and Finance ministries. Antony said his ministry was trying its best to suitably fine-tune the procurement process from time to time to bring in more transparency, efficiency and accountability. Annual review of the defence procurement procedure was one such step in the direction, he added.  “We need to firmly secure our maritime frontiers, waterways and offshore resources on a permanent basis,” said the Defence Minister, adding that there was need to create necessary infrastructure for the security of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep.  “Our island territories form natural bulwarks that extend our strategic arms to our East and West and also function as the last outposts for the defence of our mainland. Considering the importance of the eastern region, we need to create the necessary infrastructure in Andaman and Nicobar islands. Similarly, Lakshadweep islands, which straddle the oil artery of the world, require our undivided attention,” Antony added.








Naval War Room leak case accused arrested 
New Delhi, May 20 In a major catch, Ravi Shankaran, one of the main accused in the infamous Naval War Room leak case, has been arrested in London and the CBI has sought his early extradition.  Shankaran (46), a close kin of former Naval Chief Arun Prakash, was arrested by the Metropolitan police in London on April 21 and the CBI was informed about the same. “Shankaran has been arrested and we have moved for his early extradition,” CBI director Ashwini Kumar said today.  He said Shankaran's arrest was a major breakthrough in the case and expressed hope that he would be extradited to India as soon as possible.  CBI officials said once he was deported from the UK, he would be questioned at length about his involvement in the case. It is alleged that Shankaran had sent crucial classified information to commercial firms for pecuniary benefits.  The CBI had registered a case on March 20, 2006, against former IAF Wing Commander Sambhaji Rao Surve, Shankaran, ex-naval Commanders Vinod Kumar Jha and Vinod Rana, Raj Rani Jaiswal, Mukesh Bajaj, Wing Commander (retired) S K Kohli, Kashyap Kumar and Kulbushan Parashar.  Barring Jaiswal, Bajaj and Kashyap Kumar, chargesheets have been filed against all the others. The CBI has prepared documents for closing the case against the trio as nothing could be found against them.  The CBI had earlier in 2006 sought arrest of Shankaran after he was spotted in Britain. However, he managed to give slip to the London police after a UK court issued an arrest warrant against him.  Shankaran, who has been chargesheeted by the CBI in 2006, did not return to Britain after the arrest warrant for him was issued on April 10, 2007.  After trailing him for over four months, the CBI found him in Sweden. This prompted the agency to send an alert to the Swedish wing of Interpol for his immediate detention but he managed to give a slip to the sleuths again. He had been criss-crossing Europe without a valid passport as the External Affairs Ministry revoked his travel document on April 1, 2006. — PTI







Defence Minister to witness LCH flight
Shubhadeep Choudhury Tribune News Service  Bangalore, May 20 The Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) developed by HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) is all set to boost the chopper attack capabilities of the armed forces.  Defence Minister AK Antony is coming to Bangalore on May 23 to formally dedicate the helicopter to the nation.“A full-fledged qualification test program would lead to initial operation clearance for induction of the LCH into the armed forces”, an HAL official said. He said IAF chief PV Naik and other senior functionaries of the Defence Ministry would also be present at the function at the HAL Airport here on Sunday.  Asked how the LCH is different from its predecessor Dhruv, the official said, “The LCH is totally dedicated to attack. It also has a number of stealth features such as low oral signature and low visual signature”, he said. The official said an armed version of the tandem seating helicopter would be flown before the Defence Minister.  The maiden flight of the LCH prototype (the same machine will fly on Sunday) took place at HAL’s helicopter complex in Bangalore on March 29. The flight lasted for 20 minutes and provided the pilots an opportunity to carry out low speed, low altitude checks on the various systems on-board the LCH.  The HAL had announced its plans to build an attack helicopter in 2006. Funds for the design and development of the LCH to meet the requirements of the Army and IAF were sanctioned in October 2006.  The new helicopter is a derivative of the HAL Dhruv helicopter, which has already been inducted into the armed forces. Using the base platform of Dhruv, an Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH), helped the HAL minimise the costs of the development of the LCH project.  Besides stealth features, the LCH also has crash landing gear as a safety measure.









Army man, uncle held for spying 
Ahmedabad, May 20 An army man and his relative have been arrested in Kutch district by the Gujarat Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) on charges of spying and passing on Army's confidential documents to Pakistan-based intelligence agencies, ATS officials said today.  Ibrahim Sama, recruited through the Military Engineering Service (MES), and his maternal uncle Osmaan Sama were arrested yesterday from Bhuj in Kutch on charges of spying and criminal conspiracy to disturb internal security, they said.  Confidential and sensitive documents of the Army and some phone numbers of their Pakistani contacts, were recovered during searches conducted in the duo's houses, the officials said.  Both were produced before a local court in Bhuj, which sent them to nine-day police custody for further interrogation, they added.  The officials said the ATS had received a tip-off that Sama used to get secret and confidential documents from the Army as he had an access to its base in Bhuj.  He used to send the confidential documents to his uncle Osmaan of Nana Dinara village in Bhuj, with the objective to pass it on to Pakistani intelligence agencies, they said.  Both have been booked under various Sections of Official Secrets Act of illegal possession of confidential Army documents, and Section 120 B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC, the ATS officials said. — PTI








Naval war room leak case accused Shankaran arrested in London
Press Trust of India, Thursday May 20, 2010, New Delhi In a major catch, Ravi Shankaran, one of the main accused in the infamous Naval War Room leak case, has been arrested in London and the CBI has sought his early extradition.  Forty six-year-old Shankaran, close kin of former Naval Chief Arun Prakash, was arrested by Metropolitan Police in London on April 21 and the CBI was informed about the same.  "Shankaran has been arrested and we have moved for his early extradition," CBI Director Ashwini Kumar said on Thursday.  A visibly happy Kumar said Shankaran's arrest was a major breakthrough in the case and expressed hope that he would be extradited to India as soon as possible.  CBI officials said once he was deported from the UK, he would be questioned at length about his involvement in the case. It is alleged that he had sent crucial classified information to commercial firms for pecuniary benefits.  The CBI had registered a case on March 20, 2006 against former IAF Wing Commander Sambhaji Rao Surve, Shankaran, ex-naval Commanders Vinod Kumar Jha and Vinod Rana, Raj Rani Jaiswal, Mukesh Bajaj, Wing Commander (retired) S K Kohli, Kashyap Kumar and Kulbushan Parashar.  The case against these nine persons was registered under various sections of the Official Secrets Act (OSA) and Section 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.  Barring Jaiswal, Bajaj and Kashyap Kumar, chargesheets have been filed against all the others. The CBI has prepared documents for closing the case against the trio as nothing could be found against them.  The CBI had earlier in 2006 sought arrest of Shankaran after he was spotted in Britain. However, he managed to give slip to the London Police after a UK court issued an arrest warrant against him.  Shankaran, who has been chargesheeted by the CBI in 2006, did not return to Britain after the arrest warrant for him was issued on April 10, 2007.  After trailing him for over four months, the CBI found him in Sweden. This prompted the agency to send an alert to the Swedish wing of Interpol for his immediate detention but he managed to give a slip to the sleuths again.  He had been criss-crossing Europe without a valid passport as the External Affairs Ministry revoked his travel document on April one, 2006.  The CBI had on September 12, 2006 attached Shankaran's property and bank accounts after he failed to appear before the agency for questioning. This included his office - Shanks Oceanographic Pvt Ltd in Goa - and accounts with HSBC Bank of a firm called Besix India, which belonged to him.  The agency conducted raids at his residence and offices in April 2006 after arresting former naval Commander Kulbushan Parashar at Indira Gandhi International Airport here on his arrival from London. A proclamation notice asking Shankaran to appear before the CBI for questioning was published in The Times of London on August 11, 2006.








Pak's legal notice to India over Kishanganga dam issue
Press Trust of India / Islamabad May 20, 2010, 12:30 IST  Pakistan has served a legal notice to India concerning the long pending issue of construction of the Kishaganga dam over the river Indus.  The Nation reported a private television channel, as saying that the notice has been sent by the Water and Power Ministry in consultation with the Indus Water commission with an aim to bring the issue before the World Bank’s court of arbitration.  It is worth mentioning here that the notice has been served at a time when Pakistan’s Indus Water Commissioner Jamaat Ali Shah is scheduled to visit India on May 29th to participate in the annual Indus Water Commission meeting.  The Indus Waters Treaty (IWT), inked between India and Pakistan in 1960, provides appointment of a neutral expert by the World Bank as a last option to resolve water related issues between both the countries.  Pakistan has been blaming India for an unsporting attitude during bilateral talks, which were initiated to resolve the impending water dispute.  Pakistan has been opposing the construction of the Kishanganga hydropower project on the Ganga River in Kashmir, which is called Neelum upon entering Pakistan. Pakistan has said that the diversion of the waters of the Neelum is not allowed under the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty, and it will face a 27 per cent water deficit, when the project gets completed.  It also claims that India has almost completed a 22-kilometre long tunnel to divert Kishanganga waters to Wullar Lake in Jammu and Kashmir.
http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/pak%5Cs-legal-notice-to-india-over-kishanganga-dam-issue/94956/on
Armed forces ready to help Laila victims Special Correspondent Share  ·   print  ·   T+    The armed forces are ready to help the civil administration in Andhra Pradesh, where cyclonic storm Laila caused havoc, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said on Thursday.  Talking to journalists here, Mr. Antony said his ministry was ready to provide whatever help was needed from the Navy and other armed forces.  Meanwhile, a high-level meeting of armed forces officers here reviewed preparedness and planning of a swift response, said a ministry release. The tri-services headquarters, Integrated Defence Staff, set up a cell in the Andhra sub-area headquarters in Hyderabad to coordinate all rescue and relief efforts. The situation was being closely monitored.  The armed forces had geared themselves for a coordinated response in supporting the civil administration. The Army had moved three columns, each comprising 96 men including doctors, from Hyderabad to East and West Godavari and Krishna districts. The IAF had mobilised two Chetak and two MI-8 helicopters, while 10 AN-32s and an IL-76 aircraft were kept on standby to meet any eventuality.  One naval team of 33 men with five Gemini boats already reached Narsapur in West Godavari. Two Dornier aircraft and two Chetak helicopters of the Coast Guard conducted sorties to trace the vessels still out at sea. The Coast Guard had pressed into action an Advanced Offshore Patrol Vessel.







Centre to decide on Army against Naxals
May 20 2010  May 20: Even as he urged top Navy officers to ensure total implementation of proposals regarding coastal security for the country, the defence minister, Mr A.K. Antony, also said on Thursday that the government would take a final decision in due course on the issue of any utilisation of armed forces in anti-Naxal operations.  Mr Antony said, “There are issues which are not effectively debated publicly. I don’t want public debate on this. Ultimately, the government will take a final decision on this. Whatever is the final decision will be communicated... ,” he said, adding that the decision would be binding on all including the ministry of defence (MoD).  The MoD has, so far, opposed any deployment of armed forces in anti-Naxal operations but the government is expected to soon take a final decision on this.  Addressing top Navy officers on Thursday at the Naval commanders’ conference in the capital, Mr Antony said, “Coastal security is a very high priority for the government and the nation... The government is equipping both Navy and Coast Guard for coastal surveillance and patrol both in terms of assets and manpower. Proposals towards this end have been approved. It is now your responsibility to ensure that these are put in place at the earliest and used effectively and efficiently for coastal security.”  Mr Antony also called for increased focus to ensure the security of India’s island territories such as the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the Lakshadweep Islands.








124 more Arjuns, but indigenous tank has 58% foreign content  
07:40 GMT, May 20, 2010 8ak (www.8ak.in) | In March, Livefist had reported that "Army will not order more Arjuns" giving a MoD source and some reasons. So the latest order for another 124 Arjuns would have been a painful process for the Army, made possible due to the recent success of the Arjun vs the T-90 in field trials and the success of DRDO's pressurising tactics.  A sign that more Arjuns were about to be ordered were given when the Defence Minister Antony spoke about Arjun Mark II in last week's press releases about DRDO's re-structure. The latest order of 124 Arjun Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) over and above the existing order of 124 Arjun tanks, which the army had committed to Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) earlier. The development follows the success of the indigenous MBT Arjun in the recent gruelling desert trials.  Financial Express reports that during the trials Arjun MBT was 30% more efficient than the Russian T-90s. In fact, DRDO had put down more than 100 parameters ahead of the trials in which the MBT performed well. Hindustan Times reports Defence Ministry spokesperson saying, “After many years of trials, it has now proved its worth by its superb performance under various circumstances such as driving cross-country over rugged sand dunes, detecting, observing and quickly engaging targets and accurately hitting stationary and moving targets.”  The Times of India reports that in spite of additional orders and a stellar performance by the Arjuns during the comparative trials with the Russian T- 90s, the army maintains that T-90s will continue to be its front line tanks. Besides the logistics, the main issue is that the heavier Arjun would require some of the bridges to be re-inforced before they can take the extra weight. Hence, the force's requirement for 1,781 MBTs to replace the older T-55 and T-72 tanks will primarily be met through the progressive induction of 1,657 T-90S tanks.  Even though Arjun is said to be indigenous, nearly 58% (by cost) is foreign equipment. With India's push for integration in to the global defence-manufacturing value chain, today, it is not viable/cost-effective and therefore not desirable for India to aim for 100% indigenisation (like the Saras civilian plane). But after 3 decades of development if you only have 42% indigenous content then it is misleading to call it an indigenous platform. Understandably, unless you have large orders foreign vendors will not be interested in transfer of technology and will sell systems at higher prices. While reverse engineering is difficult, the percentage of indigenous content will go up over time and hopefully the public and private sector companies will have a larger participation in the program.  As per the Indian army’s plan, 657 T-90s would be imported from Russia at a cost of Rs 8,525 crores and another 1,000 T-90s would be manufactured under license by Avadi Heavy Vehicles Factory. With the twin order, the total Arjuns to be inducted in the army would be 248, which is still half the 500 tanks that DRDO insists the Army should buy to bring cost rationalisation.  The project for the design and development of the MBT Arjun was approved by the Government in 1974 with an aim to give the required indigenous cutting edge to our Mechanised Forces. However, due to a series of problems the development of tank could not be completed on time, thereby delaying armoured modernization and forcing India to look for options abroad.




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