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Saturday, 21 August 2010

From Today's Papers - 21 Aug 2010







CAG raises a stink, again
Ajay Banerjee Tribune News Service  New Delhi, August 20 The Comptroller and Auditor General, in a report tabled in Parliament today, unveiled what could be the most daring of frauds with public money running in hundreds of crores.  CAG in its report “Procurement of stores and machinery in ordnance factories” today pointed out how the Ordnance factory at Nalanda entered into a contract with an Israeli company for manufacture specific ammunition, all without even having an “approval” of the Cabinet Committee on Security to do so.  Originally, a tender was floated in 2004 to manufacture 155mm Bi-Modular Charge Systems (BMCS). The IMI Israel emerged as the lowest bidder at Rs. 571.71 crore. The matter was kept in abeyance. In July 2006, the project was restarted. The IMI wanted a small increase from the 2004 price and sought Rs 654.79 crore. It was, however, decided to issue global tender enquiry to generate more competition.  In this global tender, IMI Israel again emerged as the lowest bidder at Rs 1090.83 crore. After this the Ministry of Defence constituted a cost negotiation committee (CNC).  The CNC put up a note to the Cabinet seeking approval for revision of the estimated cost of project from Rs 941.13 crore to Rs 2160.51 crore. The most damaging part is that the “approval para” of the note to the Cabinet did not refer to the approval of the BMCS plant at all, says CAG. And on the basis of this note the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and the MoD went about signing contracts and giving out payments.









MoD paid crores for non-working equipment
 In what will come as a shocker, the CAG on Friday rapped the Ministry of Defence for making payments of Rs 611 crore to buy a system for fighter aircraft of the IAF even as the equipment did not meet performance parameters trials.  A reconnaissance system, used to collect intelligence data for operational need, was to be integrated under the wings of the Sukhoi-30 aircraft, at a total cost of Rs. 640.70 crore. The system procured was not selected and evaluated as per Defence Procurement Procedure, said the CAG while adding “frequent changes in the operational requirements (OR’s), although earlier approved by Competent Authority, were made to facilitate the procurement of such a system offered by Israel Aerospace Industries’s, ‘Elta’ product.” The frequent changes ensured that IAI became the only vendor capable of meeting the changed OR’s.  By deviating from the prescribed procedure of field trials, the IAF accepted the system. While the IAF’s operational need is yet to be fulfilled even after almost a decade, a sum of Rs. 611 crore, has been paid to IAI. Separately, The CAG has also pointed out at that Defence Public Sector Undertaking, Bharat Electronics Limited was awarded a contract by the MoD for the supply of 22 surveillance radar element (SRE Radar) at a cost of Rs. 870 crore.  A total of 60 per cent of the radars were manufactured by BEL using imported completely knocked Down (CKD) kits rather than manufacturing them.









Border Infrastructure House panel raps Defence Ministry
 Tribune News Service  New Delhi, August 20 Even as China was indulging in fast-paced construction of infrastructure in its territory, India’s slow pace of infrastructure development was posing challenges to the national security, a Parliamentary panel report said today. The panel slammed the Defence Ministry for its "casual attitude" of not keeping an eye on developments across the border and said that India’s own plan of building roads was lagging far behind.  The panel in its report of border roads, said the long-term perspective plan was to have 277 roads with a collective length of 13,100 km. It was cleared at a cost of Rs 24,866 crore and the target is 2012. Only 29 roads have so far been completed and the work in respect of another 168 roads is in progress. No work has started with respect to 80 roads measuring 2624 km, the report said. Infrastructure created by countries, particularly China, further poses a challenge before the country,” the report added. The Ministry has admitted that the deadline of 2012 will not difficult to meet said the panel of MP’s while adding “ … There seems to be a sense of complacency on part of the Border Roads Organisation…. The BRO needs to set international standards.”  The report said it is an acknowledged fact that infrastructure is being created on the borders by countries, particularly China, the ministry has not maintained any data of such activities on borders... this speaks volumes about the ministry's casual attitude towards such an important matter.  There was an urgent need to ensure that Indian plans are in consonance with impeding security challenges, said the report.The panel said the problems along the different portions of the country's extensive borders have aggravated in recent times due to cross-border terrorism.









CWG: Army to give some services free
 New Delhi, August 20 The Urban Development Ministry has sought the assistance of Defence Minister AK Antony to ensure the Army does not charge the Organising Committee for certain facilities provided by it during the Commonwealth Games.  OC chairman Suresh Kalmadi said the chairman of the Group of Ministers for CWG Jaipal Reddy has written a letter to AK Antony requesting him to ask the Army not to charge for certain facilities it was providing during the Games. "...So they have agreed to do something free of charge, for some, they will charge,” said Kalmadi.  It is learnt that in his letter, Urban Development Minister Reddy has requested Antony that the Army should not charge the Organising Committee (OC) for allowances for the officers and jawans who are on duty for the sporting event. — PTI









Sukna scam: Gen Rath to be court martialled
Tribune News Service  New Delhi, August 20 The Indian Army has ordered a court martial against former commander of the Darjeeling-based 33 crops, Lieut Gen PK Rath for the alleged wrong doing in issuing a no-objection certificate (NoC) for construction an educational institution on land adjacent to the Sukhna military station near Darjeeling.  The NoC was issued to real estate dealer for building an educational institution on a 70-acre piece of land adjacent to the military station. An Army Court of Inquiry has recommended disciplinary proceedings against Gen Rath and also the Military Secretary Lt Gen Avadesh Prakash.  Lt Gen Rath’s court martial starts August 30. He would be the first serving officer of such a high rank to face a court martial for his alleged involvement in financial irregularities. Sources confirmed that orders for convening the court martial have already been issued after the Summary of Evidence (SOE) recommended continuation of disciplinary proceedings against Lt. Gen. Rath. In February this year, Lt. Gen. Rath withdrew his petition from the Armed Forces Tribunal against his court martial in connection with the scam.  Lt. Gen. Rath’s petition in the Delhi High Court was dismissed on a jurisdictional issue, following which he had moved the Principal Bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal.










Commonwealth Games: Army asked to work at no cost 
Sidharth Pandey, Updated: August 21, 2010 00:37 IST After busting the budget several times over, the Commonwealth Games are apparently still short of money. So the Army is now expected to spend 11 crores for the help it's been asked to provide.  In February, the Organising Committee of the Games, headed by Suresh Kalmadi, asked the Sports Ministry to call in the Army for assistance. The officers and jawans deputed on Games duty would be compensated for travel and other expenses as they moved between the CWG venues.  Nine hundred jawans and 60 officers of the armed forces are being stationed at those venues. The Army has also spent close to 8 crores renovating its hostels where it was asked to house 2500 artists who are in Delhi to practice for and perform at the opening ceremony.  In return, Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy, who heads a group of ministers in charge of managing the Games, has written to the Army on August 11, asking that it waive its Rs. 11 crore bill. Effectively, the Army will have to dip into the Defence fund  When asked about this letter, written not even a fortnight ago, Reddy said, "I confirm that I wrote the letter... but I don't remember the contents."  Kalmadi, who had asked Reddy to summon the Army for assistance, said that asking the Army to foot its own bill was not something that involved him. "Mr Jaipal Reddy had requested Defence Minister that the Army should do it free of charge... they have agreed to do something free of charge, and something they are charging," he said on Friday.  Sources, however, suggest that it was Kalmadi who complained to the Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by Reddy about the Army's fee.  An audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India faulted Team Kalmadi just a few weeks ago for spending close to 5 crores to renovate the office of the Indian Olympic Committee (IOC) in South Delhi - an office which the Games' organisers occupied for just a few months.  Financial mismanagement and self-interest have emerged as metabolic among those in charge of organising the Games. But this latest example bends even their record to a new low.











Ex-Army Commander decries political role
TNN, Aug 21, 2010, 03.57am IST CHANDIGARH: Echoing the recent concerns of Army Chief Gen VK Singh over the lack of political process in insurgency-hit states, former Western Army Commander Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi said the Army's gains in bringing armed militancy within control were often negated by the lack of a people's initiative by the political class. Delivering the first 'Brig Balwinder Singh Shergill Memorial Lecture' in government museum here on Friday to an impressive gathering, Lt Gen Oberoi through a detailed audio-visual presentation traced the Army's efforts in tackling militancy across India 'for which the central paramilitary forces should had been tasked'.  Brig Shergill had died when he and Col RS Chauhan, then CO of the 21 Rashtriya Rifles (Guards), were killed in an IED blast exactly 10 years ago in the highly-dangerous Handwara-Rajwar forests sector of Kashmir. Brig Shergill had just taken over command of the 7 Sector RR headquartered at Drugmullah. He was out on an inspection of his new command with Col Chauhan, who was at the wheel of a Maruti Gypsy, when a bomb hit the vehicle. Brig Shergill is survived by his wife and two daughters, one of whom, Parneet, was given an appointment on compassionate grounds in PCS.  'Brig Shergill had been commissioned in the famous Punjab Regiment and had been a decorated officer.  He exemplified the sacrifices officers and men of Indian Army have made to defend the nation. We must remember such people,' said Rakesh Dutta, head of the department of defence and strategic analysis, PU. tnn Chandigarh: Echoing the recent concerns of Army Chief Gen VK Singh over the lack of political process in insurgency-hit states, former Western Army Commander Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi said the Army?s gains in bringing armed militancy within control were often negated by the lack of a people?s initiative by the political class. Delivering the first ?Brig Balwinder Singh Shergill Memorial Lecture? in government museum here on Friday to an impressive gathering, Lt Gen Oberoi through a detailed audio-visual presentation traced the Army?s efforts in tackling militancy across India ?for which the central paramilitary forces should had been tasked?.  Brig Shergill had died when he and Col RS Chauhan, then CO of the 21 Rashtriya Rifles (Guards), were killed in an IED blast exactly 10 years ago in the highly-dangerous Handwara-Rajwar forests sector of Kashmir. Brig Shergill had just taken over command of the 7 Sector RR headquartered at Drugmullah. He was out on an inspection of his new command with Col Chauhan, who was at the wheel of a Maruti Gypsy, when a bomb hit the vehicle. Brig Shergill is survived by his wife and two daughters, one of whom, Parneet, was given an appointment on compassionate grounds in PCS.  ?Brig Shergill had been commissioned in the famous Punjab Regiment and had been a decorated officer.  He exemplified the sacrifices officers and men of Indian Army have made to defend the nation. We must remember such people,? said Rakesh Dutta, head of the department of defence and strategic analysis, PU. tnn  Read more: Ex-Army Commander decries political role - Chandigarh - City - The Times of India






Army chief on four-day trip to Australia
2010-08-20 19:50:00  Indian Army Chief General V.K. Singh Monday left for Australia on a four-day visit that is expected to boost defence cooperation between the two countries.  During his trip, Singh will hold talks Australian Defence Secretary Ian Watt and Australia's Chief of Defence Forces, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston.  The army chief will also hold talks with his Australian counterpart Lt. Gen. Ken Gillespie and would be presented with guard of honour at Canberra.  He will visit training institutions, service headquarters and various operational units.  India and Australia share mutual interests of maritime security, counter terrorism, disarmament, non-proliferation, peacekeeping and disaster management and are members of Commonwealth, UN, Indian Ocean Region-Alliance of Regional Countries (IOR-ARC), ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and are dialogue partners with ASEAN.









Sukna Scam: Lt Gen Rath to be court-martialed
CNN-IBN  New Delhi: Former 33 Corps Commander Lt Gen P K Rath to be court-martialed in the Sukna land scam case, say defence sources.  Rath is accused of giving no-objection certificate to a private builder for constructing an educational institute on a land belonging to Indian Army in Sukna, West Bengal.  Along Rath, Lt Gen Avadesh Prakash is also accused of involvement in the land scam.  The 70-acre area of land close to the Sukna military station is at the heart of the conflict and the allegations against the three top generals that they paved the way for a no-objection-certificate (NoC) to a trust - Agarwal Geetanjali Education Trust - to set up an affiliate school of the prestigious Mayo College in the area.  An NoC is needed for any land usage close to a military station.  On June 30, Lt Gen Prakash was chargesheeted in the case. He has been charged of trying to help secure defence land for a private realtor.  After the reconvened Court of Inquiry (COI) was completed earlier in June, the Army initiated the summary of evidence against Prakash at the Eastern Command headquarters in Kolkata.



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