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Wednesday, 1 February 2012

From Today's Papers - 01 Feb 2012






http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120201/main1.htm
Finally, French fighter for IAF
nRs 54k crore deal for 126 Rafale jets sealed n India’s biggest buy in decades
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, January 31
French firm Dassault Aviation has bagged the mega $10.4-billion (Rs 54,000 crore) contract to supply 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) that will give the Indian Air Force — which is eagerly looking to replace its ageing fleets of MiGs and other fighter jets — a much-needed shot in the arm.



A fierce bidding battle was witnessed between Dassault’s Rafale and European consortium Eurofighter’s Typhoon to clinch what has been billed as the mother of all defence deals. Finally, it was the twin-engine, delta wing Rafale, which emerged as the lowest bidder today.

“The French firm Dassault Rafale has emerged as the lowest bidder and cheaper than its European rival EADS (maker of Eurofighter) in the tender and will be offered to supply the aircraft to the IAF,” top sources said.

They said the representatives of Dassault here were informed about the development in the morning and further negotiations on price will be held with them in the next 10-15 days.

The Rafale is used by the French Air Force and Navy and was deployed during the recent France-led NATO strikes on Libya. The final order could eventually go up to 200 aircraft as there is a provision for increasing the number of jets by 50 percent without any price hike. According to the Request for Proposal (RFP), the winner of the contract will have to supply 18 of the 126 aircraft to the Indian Air Force in 36 months in a fly-away condition from its facilities and the remaining would be produced at HAL facilities in Bangalore. The contract is likely to signed at the end of this fiscal in March or early next fiscal.

Dassualt Aviation’s Mirage-2000 fighter is already being used by the Indian Air Force for the past two decades.

Six companies, including American F-16 and F-18, Russian MiG 35, Swedish Saab Gripen alongwith Eurofighter and Dassault Rafale were in the race in the beginning. But in April last year, the Defence Ministry shortlisted Dassault and EADS, evicting the American, Russian and Swedish bids. The process was started with the issuing of a global tender in 2007 after which all the six contenders were subjected to extensive field evaluation trials by the Indian Air Force at several locations across the globe.

A defence ministry source said the Rafale was preferred because of lower costs, and the Indian Air Force’s familiarity with French warplanes such as the Mirage. "Unit-wise, the French plane is much cheaper than the Eurofighter. Moreover, the Indian Air Force, which is well equipped with French fighters, is favouring the French,” said the source. In the last six months, this is the third big defence deal bagged by French firms. India had recently signed a deal worth over $ 2.4 billion with Dassault Aviation and Thales for upgrading the 51 Mirage 2000 fighters. Earlier this month, the government also cleared a proposal to procure around 490 MICA air-to-air missiles for Mirage 2000 from French firm MBDA, which will cost $ 970 million. Also, a French company, DCNS, is building six scorpene submarines at the Mazagon Docks Mumbai under a Rs 20,000 crore deal. Another French company Safran supplies engines under brand name ‘turbomeca’ for the upgraded version of the Dhruv chopper used by the Army.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120201/main5.htm
Antony blames Army, Gen Singh agrees
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 31
Just days ahead of the Supreme Court hearing on the petition filed by Army Chief General VK Singh, who is seeking a correction in his date of birth, Defence Minister AK Antony today squarely blamed the Army for the whole mess. The General agreed with him and said the administrative branch of the Army is responsible for his age row.
A file photo of Defence Minister AK Antony with Army Chief General VK Singh
A file photo of Defence Minister AK Antony with Army Chief General VK Singh. — AFP

In his first detailed comments on the raging issue, Antony said the controversy erupted because the Army kept two sets of his (Singh’s) date of birth for 36 years, maintaining there was no civil-military confrontation.

He suggested that the government had no role to play in the whole issue as this discrepancy was first noticed in 2006 by the Army headquarters and reconciled at that level then and later in 2008 by two respective chiefs. “For 36 years, the government was not in the picture. The two branches of the same institution maintained two dates of birth,” the Defence Minister told reporters on sidelines of an awards function here.

Antony also made it clear yet again that the Supreme Court verdict on the controversy surrounding the Army Chief’s date of birth will be final. “Let's wait for the Supreme Court decision. That will be final and nobody can question that," he said.

At a separate function, the Army Chief said the Defence Minister was ‘right’ in noting that the Army was responsible for the entire controversy.

When asked to comment on the Antony's statement and that if the 'original sin' on the issue was committed within the force, Singh said: “Absolutely, it is within the Army. After 36 years, you suddenly decide to come up with an issue. There is something wrong with it.”

Gen Singh, however, rejected suggestions that there has been a delay on part of the Army to respond to the Defence Ministry's latest letter on his age issue, saying everything does not happen "with the press of a button". The General also gave assurance to fellow officers that the problem of varying DoB in records will not recur ever in the future. “There was some problem in coordination between the branch that keeps all the service records and other branches. Now a system has been put in place to resolve it," he said.

The Army has two sets of records related to General Singh's dates of birth leading to the controversy and forcing the Army Chief to move the apex court to resolve the issue. The Adjutant General Branch, the official record keeper in the Army, maintains the General’s date of birth as May 10, 1951; in the Military Secretary Branch, the Army Chief’s date of birth is May 10, 1950.


http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120201/nation.htm#12
CBI books ex-Vice Chief of Army for graft

Mumbai, January 31
Former Vice Chief of Army Lt Gen Nobel Thamburaj and two others were today booked by the CBI on charges of criminal conspiracy and misconduct in an out-of- court land dispute settlement to benefit a private builder to the tune of Rs 46 crore.

The case was registered against Lt Gen Thamburaj last evening under various Sections of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act in a designated CBI court here. — PTI

http://www.ndtv.com/article/cities/army-jawans-allegedly-assault-policemen-in-pune-172090?pfrom=home-otherstories
Army jawans allegedly assault policemen in Pune


Read more at:
http://www.ndtv.com/article/cities/army-jawans-allegedly-assault-policemen-in-pune-172090?pfrom=home-otherstories&cp
Pune:  A group of Army jawans in Pune clashed with police following an altercation over traffic violation, sparking tension on Tuesday evening.

According to the police, the trouble started when a jawan attached to the College of Military Engineering (CME), riding a motorbike, was stopped by a traffic constable at Sambhaji Bridge for running into a no-entry area.

The jawan then returned with his friends and assaulted the policemen at the nearby outpost, police said.

The jawans, who were in civil clothes, also broke the cameras of mediapersons who had rushed to the spot.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Sanjay Jadhav said the CME jawans had abused and assaulted police constables.

He said the situation was under control and action was being taken against the culprits.


Read more at:
http://www.ndtv.com/article/cities/army-jawans-allegedly-assault-policemen-in-pune-172090?pfrom=home-otherstories&cp

http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/former-vice-chief-of-army-raided-as-part-of-land-scam-inquiry-172028?pfrom=home-otherstories
Former vice chief of Army raided as part of land scam inquiry


Read more at:
http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/former-vice-chief-of-army-raided-as-part-of-land-scam-inquiry-172028?pfrom=home-otherstories&cp
Pune:  Lieutenant General Nobel Thamubraj,  the former vice chief of the Army and former Defence Estates Officer, Pune, SR Nayyar have  been raided  in connection with a land scam in Pune. 

Officials from the CBI visited their homes in Pune this morning. Cases against them now include charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating and criminal misconduct.

Both officers allegedly played lead roles in violating the terms of lease of a one-acre plot of Army land in the Pune cantonment area to  Kalpataru Builders.

Nobel Thamburaj was Southern Army Commander before becoming Vice Chief of Army Staff. He retired in 2010. The CBI says that Nobel Thamburaj and SR Nayyar sanctioned a deal skewed in favour of the real estate developers, costing the Army Rs. 46 crore.

Kalpataru Builders are involved in another land scam in Mumbai. According to the CBI, in 2007, three acres of land in Kandivali West next to an Army Ordnance Depot was used by by Kalpatru Builders to construct a multi-storied building. Army officials said the mandatory No objection Certificate was not taken from the authorities concerned. The building also compromised the Army's security. The Army believes that a network of officers colluded to profit from underhand arrangement.


Read more at:
http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/former-vice-chief-of-army-raided-as-part-of-land-scam-inquiry-172028?pfrom=home-otherstories&cp

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/annandale-strategic-end-row-defence-army-to-hp/906389/
Annandale strategic, end row: Defence, Army to HP
The Defence Ministry and Indian Army have once again reiterated the strategic importance of Shimla’s historic Annandale ground and have publicly appealed to the state government to put an end to the controversy over efforts to seek its transfer from the armed forces. The appeal comes in the wake of a signatory campaign,started in Shimla at behest of the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA), seeking the transfer of the ground to the state for building an international cricket stadium.

The HPCA has proposed to collect one lakh signatures from youth and prominent Shimla citizens and later submit a memorandum to Governor Urmila Singh before forwarding it to President Pratibha Patil. HPCA chief and BJP MP Anurag Thakur had stated the desire to build a second international cricket stadium at the ground on the lines of the one at Dharamshala.

A defence spokesman said here on Tuesday that the ground has been in the possession of the Army since the early 1940s and it continues to remain of paramount strategic significance from the national security perspective. “The strategic significance of Annandale as a forward logistic and operational base for operations in the sector adjoining Himachal is being overlooked in preference for a cricket stadium”, he said.

The Army maintained that the Annandale ground was handed over to it during World War II as a training camp has been in its possession since. The Army conducts mock exercises for military helicopters, practices air dropping of troops and essential logistic replenishment operations at the ground.

“ In the past, the ground has been jointly used by the civil administration and Army for conducting disaster relief and management exercises. Shimla and adjoining area are located in high seismic zone. The significance of Annandale for disaster management in situation as was witnessed in Sikkim during the earthquake earlier in the year is fresh in the minds of people and is well appreciated both by the Army and the State civil administration”, the spokesman added.

Despite such a strategic importance both during war and peace, the ground has needlessly become an issue of controversy. It would be prudent and will do well for all concerned to put a lid on the issue and let the serene and pristine environs of Annandale be left untouched for utilization in the larger national interest, the spokesman said.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Former-Army-vice-chief-booked-by-CBI-for-cheating/articleshow/11703894.cms
Former Army vice chief booked by CBI for cheating
MUMBAI: Former vice chief of Indian Army Lt Gen Nobel Thamburaj and two others were on Tuesday booked by the CBI on charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating and misconduct in an out of court land dispute settlement to benefit a private builder to the tune of Rs 46 crore.

The case was registered against Gen Thamburaj last evening under various sections of IPC and Prevention of Corruption Act in a designated CBI court here after receiving requisite sanction from the Defence Ministry.

Gen Thamburaj, while he was posted as General-Officer-in- Command of Southern Command, is alleged to have entered into a criminal conspiracy with former Defence Estate Officer S R Nayyar and Pune-based Kalpataru builders in settling a matter out of the court of a defence property despite having favourable orders from various courts, a CBI statement said.

The CBI on Tuesday carried out searches at various places in Mumbai and Pune which included the residential premises of the retired General. This is possibly for the first time that a vice chief of the Indian Army is facing corruption charges.

According to the CBI, Thamburaj, who retired as Vice Chief in October 2009, and Nayyar had allegedly shown undue favour to the builder for a property measuring 0.96 acres in Defence Land at Pune Cantonment.

"There was a dispute going on regarding the property in question. Thamburaj and Nayyar settled the matter out of court in spite of several court orders given in favour of the army. The duo indulged in gross misconduct," CBI said.

The two officers ignored rules and policies, violated the terms of lease entered into by the Ministry of Defence and Kalpataru and caused the private company pecuniary gains of about Rs 46 crore, it said.

http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/hal-making-159-dhruvs-for-indian-army/463354/
HAL making 159 Dhruvs for Indian Army
BS Reporter / Chennai/ Bangalore Feb 01, 2012, 00:18 IST

The defence public sector undertaking, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited’s (HAL) helicopter division on Tuesday said that the company’s order book position is strong. The HAL is working on producing 159 Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) to be handed over to the Indian Army.

The company also said that it is focusing on producing Weapon System Integrated (WSI) ALH to be handed over to the services and work on this was in the different stages.
The defence public sector undertaking, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited’s (HAL) helicopter division on Tuesday said that the company’s order book position is strong. The HAL is working on producing 159 Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) to be handed over to the Indian Army.
The company also said that it is focusing on producing Weapon System Integrated (WSI) ALH to be handed over to the services and work on this was in the different stages.
M S Srinath, General Manager, Helicopter Division, said here, “HAL had handed over seven ALHs to Border Security Force (BSF), which is being used for the anti-naxalite operations.”

Srinath added that HAL has 19 production units and nine R &D centres spread across India. HAL has expertise on a diverse range of military and civil aircraft, providing self reliance to India’s aerospace capabilities.

HAL, Helicopter Division, was established in the year 1974 and has produced more than 600 Cheetah, Chetak helicopters. The division is also credited with manufacturing more than 100 Advance Light Helicopters (ALH) which has been christened Dhruv.

Srinath also said that the division has also produced ALHs which have been exported to Ecuador, Mauritius and Maldives.

http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/budget-push-for-defence-network-to-freespectrum/463378/
Budget push for defence network to free up spectrum
Sanjeeb Mukherjee & Mansi Taneja / New Delhi Feb 01, 2012, 00:36 IST

To speed up the vacation of additional 2G and 3G telecom spectrum, the government will likely make a Rs 5,000-crore provision in the Budget for an alternative network for defence services. The spectrum released in lieu of that would increase the availability for civilian use.

State-run telecom company BSNL, mandated to set up the alternative network by the department of telecommunications (DoT), already has Cabinet approval to spend Rs 9,175 crore. That includes Rs 1,077 crore for an Air Force network and Rs 8,098 crore for Army and Navy networks. According to officials involved in the development, the additional project cost of Rs 5,000 crore has been cleared by an inter-ministerial group and the provision will be announced in Budget 2012-13. The increase in project cost was sought by BSNL following stringent conditions by the defence forces. The Telecom Commission, the highest policy-making body of the DoT, approved Rs 5,000 crore for the cost escalation in November. The matter was then referred to an inter-ministerial group.
The DoT and the defence ministry had signed a memorandum of understanding in 2009, under which the defence forces were to vacate 25 MHz for 3G and 20 MHz for 2G spectrum. The DoT was to set up an exclusive and dedicated defence network.

The defence ministry vacated 15 MHz 3G spectrum, which was auctioned in 2010. It vacated 15 MHz 2G spectrum, which was allocated to new operators.

The remaining spectrum — 10 MHz in 3G (for two operators) and five MHz in 2G — will be vacated in phases linked to the completion of the alternative network.

A senior DoT official said after the approval for funds, the setting up of the network would take about two years. After the spectrum vacation, the government may explore another 3G spectrum auction. It had earned about Rs 1,06,000 crore from the 3G and BWA spectrum auction in 2010.

The plan is to have a 60,000-km optical fibre network.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/AK-Antony-is-right-in-blaming-Indian-Army-for-age-row-VK-Singh/articleshow/11701236.cms
AK Antony is right in blaming Indian Army for age row: VK Singh
NEW DELHI: Defence minister A K Antony today put the blame for the controversy over the Army Chief's age squarely on the Army and Gen V K Singh fully agreed with him. In his first detailed comments on the age row that is before the Supreme Court, Antony said the controversy erupted because the Army kept two sets of his date of birth for 36 years, maintaining there was no civil-military confrontation.

"For 36 years, two branches of the same institution maintained two dates of birth and that is why this controversy," he told reporters.

"It is unfortunate that it took years together but I don't agree with some of you that it is a civil-military controversy," Antony added. He suggested that the government had no role to play in the whole issue as this discrepancy was first noticed in 2006 by the Army headquarters and reconciled at that level then and later in 2008 by two respective chiefs. Gen Singh said the defence minister was "right" in noting that the Army was responsible for the controversy over his age issue. "Absolutely, it is within the Army. After 36 years, you suddenly decide to come up with an issue. There is something wrong with it," the Army Chief told reporters.

Singh made this remark when asked to comment on Antony's statement and if the 'original sin' on the issue was committed within the force.

"Yes, it is a problem in the Army... he is right. There is no doubt about that," he added.

He also rejected suggestions that there has been a delay on part of Army to respond to defence ministry's latest letter on his age issue, saying everything does not happen "with the press of a button".

Gen Singh said steps have been taken to ensure that Gen Singh said steps have been taken to ensure that a controversy like the age row never recurs in future.

"Problems should have been sorted out. There was a problem of coordination between the two branches. I had said earlier also that steps have been taken to ensure that such things will never recur in future," he added.

The branch which dealt with the service records in the ministry has been given full authority in these matters, he said.

On the issue of the letter by defence ministry, he said, "There is no rift (with defence ministry)... There is a normal procedure. Letter is sent and it is studied. Everything takes its time. It is not that letter comes and with the press of a button everything is done." Gen Singh was asked why the Adjutant General's (AG) branch of the Army was yet to respond to the January 23 letter of the defence ministry, directing it to change the date of birth record from May 10, 1951 to May 10, 1950.

"We should not see that it happened early or late. I think there is no other point of view in this matter," the Army Chief said.

The AG's branch, which is the official record keeper in the service, has maintained Gen Singh's date of birth as May 10, 1951, although the Military Secretary's branch records it as May 10, 1950.

Gen Singh has been maintaining that his actual date of birth is May 10, 1951 and has filed a petition in the Supreme Court to seek a direction on this issue.

When asked about the particular letter, Antony said "it was part of the ongoing process and there was nothing unusual about it." Antony said from 2006 to 2009, the Army Headquarters (AHQ) handled and reconciled the age issue at their level and the government accepted their recommendations and had no role to play in it.


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