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Wednesday, 4 April 2012

From Today's Papers - 04 Apr 2012







http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120404/edit.htm#1
Chinks in the armour
India needs to get its act together

There has been much debate over the leakage of the Army Chief’s letter to the Prime Minister which details serious deficiencies in the Army’s preparedness. While politicians have been busy either demonising the Army Chief and demanding his resignation or seeking an inquiry into who leaked the letter, what seems to have been conveniently forgotten is the gravity of the contents of General VK Singh’s letter.

In his letter dated March 12, General VK Singh has asked the Prime Minister to ‘pass suitable directions to enhance the preparedness of the Army’ while describing the state of artillery, air defence, and Infantry as ‘alarming’. The Army's tanks, he states, for example, are ‘devoid of critical ammunition to defeat enemy tanks" and air defence is "97 per cent obsolete and does not give the deemed confidence to protect from the air’, the Infantry lacks ‘night fighting’ capabilities and the elite Special Forces are woefully short of essential weapons. General Singh has also pointed out that the 'hollowness' in the system is a manifestation of the procedures and processing time for procurements as well as legal impediments by vendors. Besides, the work quality is poor and there is a 'lack of urgency at all levels' on matters of national security. In his view, such shortcomings were eroding the Army's preparedness considering two ‘inimical neighbours’ (China and Pakistan) and the ‘reality of large land borders’.

It is not for the first time that a Service chief has written to the government pointing out grave deficiencies. But what is of concern is that successive governments cutting across party lines have been unable to carry out the necessary corrections. The Army, in particular, was found wanting during the Kargil War in 1999 which was reflected in then Army Chief General VP Malik stating that ‘if a war is thrust upon us, we will fight with whatever we have’. Soon after the war, a specially formed Group of Ministers Committee recommended major changes in the higher defence management system to streamline decision making. Yet, two-and-a-half years later in December 2001, the situation was no better when the Army was mobilised following the terror attacks on Indian Parliament. Despite considerable hike in India’s defence budget, the world’s third largest Army continues to struggle for basics – ammunition, air defence cover, artillery guns and night vision devices to name a few. It is time the government got serious and took notice, streamlined and quickened defence procurement and focused on creating a sound military industrial complex to achieve reasonable self-reliance.  

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120404/main1.htm
Act against 26/11 plotter Saeed, India tells Pak
Hails US announcement of big reward on global terrorist
Ashok Tuteja/TNS

New Delhi, April 3
The US announcement of $10 million bounty on Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed’s head was today whole-heartedly welcomed by India, which again asked Pakistan to speedily act against the mastermind of the Mumbai terror attack.

Addressing a press conference here, Home Minister P Chidambaram hoped Pakistan would now not go through the “farce of a trial” and bring Saeed to justice for the massacre in which at least 170 persons, including foreigners, were killed. “The US announcement should prod Pakistan to take action against Saeed… there is enough material with Pakistan to do that,” he added.

Late last night, Washington announced an award of $10 million for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Saeed and $2 million for his aide Hafiz Adbul Makki. In her talks with Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai, visiting US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman is believed to have conveyed Washington’s decision to New Delhi.

The “wanted” notice announcing the large bounty for Saeed was posted on the website of the State Department's Rewards for Justice Programme. The programme was established in 1984 and has paid some $100 million to more than 70 people for information on terrorists. Rewards go as high as 25 million dollars for information on Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

The State Department calls the programme “one of the most valuable assets the US Government has in the fight against international terrorism.” External Affairs Minister SM Krishna said: “India welcomes the notification under the Rewards for Justice Programme. It reflects the commitment of India and the US to bring the perpetrators of the Mumbai attack to justice and continue efforts to combat terrorism.”

He also stated that the US decision had sent a strong signal to LeT as also its members and patrons that the international community remained united in combating terrorism. Responding to a question, the minister said Saeed was “safely tucked away” somewhere in Pakistan. “The US which keeps a tab on all these terrorists around the world, would have kept a tab on Saeed…these terrorists and conspirators cannot be spared and they will have to be brought to justice and that is what we have been demanding from Pakistan.”

The US decision, which is bound to put pressure on Islamabad to act against the LeT founder, comes five days ahead of Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari’s visit to India to offer prayers at Ajmer Sharif.

Asked if Manmohan Singh would take up the Saeed issue with the Pakistani leader, Chidambaram said: “I don’t know what issues the PM will take up but since it is a private visit that may not be the occasion…but we will raise it at every forum.”

New Delhi is also anguished that Pakistan has not provided voice samples of those who planned and executed the Mumbai attack. Islamabad had promised to provide the voice samples when Chidambaram had visited Pakistan in June 2010. However, it has reneged on its commitment by giving one excuse or another.

Indian officials say Saeed had been roaming about freely in Pakistan spewing venom against India but Pakistan had done nothing to check his activities.


http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120404/main4.htm
Army Chief seeks more time for detailed bribery complaint

New Delhi, April 3
Army Chief Gen VK Singh has sought a few more days to file a detailed complaint in the alleged bribe offer from a senior retired officer to clear a tranche of nearly 600 "substandard" trucks.
Gen Singh, who has named retired Lt Gen Tejinder Singh as the person who had allegedly made the offer, in his initial complaint, has been asked by CBI officials to give a detailed complaint about the issue.

The Army Chief has written to the CBI saying he requires some more days to give a comprehensive complaint to the agency about the incident.

Gen Singh had claimed in media interviews that an equipment lobbyist had offered him a bribe of Rs 14 crore to clear the tranche, a matter that he had reported to Defence Minister AK Antony. The ministry had then recommended a CBI probe into the allegation.

The agency started examining the complaint received from Gen Singh on March 30. It might question Tejinder Singh in connection with the case, sources said. — PTI

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120404/main4.htm#1
US firm to supply laser-guided bombs to IAF

New Delhi, April 3
US defence major Lockheed Martin has bagged a deal, expected to be worth over Rs 100 crore, to supply laser-guided bombs (LGBs) for the Jaguar fighter aircraft fleet in the Indian Air Force (IAF).

The IAF plans to induct more than 100 bunker-buster LGBs for its Jaguar warplanes to destroy strongly fortified enemy targets.

“We have emerged as the lowest bidders in the deal for supplying LGBs to the IAF. We have offered our Paveway II LGBs for Jaguars and contract negotiations are on,” Lockheed Martin India head Roger Rose said here.

The IAF had issued a global Request for Proposal (RFP) for the purpose last year. Lockheed Martin, along with Raytheon and an Israeli missile manufacturer, had taken part in the tender.

With their capability to pierce hard surfaces, the LGBs can also be used to destroy enemy’s concrete runways and fortified locations. — PTI

http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/defence-ministry-officials-to-be-interrogated-about-tatra-trucks-193351?pfrom=home-otherstories
Defence Ministry officials to be interrogated about Tatra trucks


Read more at:
http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/defence-ministry-officials-to-be-interrogated-about-tatra-trucks-193351?pfrom=home-otherstories&cp
New Delhi:  With renewed focus on how the Indian Army buys its equipment, the CBI is interrogating Ravi Rishi, the chairman of Vectra, again today. A case against Mr Rishi accuses him of cheating and selling trucks at inflated prices to the Army.

Mr Rishi has met with the CBI a couple of times in the last few days. Soon, the agency plans to interrogate officials from the Defence Ministry as well as BEML, a state-run company that supplies trucks sourced from Tatra to the Army.
Vectra is the majority stakeholder in Czech manufacturer Tatra. Trucks are assembled by BEML in Bangalore with Tatra parts supplied by Tatra and Vectra. The problem, according to investigators, is that although all defence equipment has to be bought directly from the manufacturer, in this case, investigators suggest, BEML was acting as a middleman between Tatra-Vectra and the Defence Ministry.
Tatra trucks have been bought by the Army since 1986. The CBI is pursuing two different cases. One relates to the purchase of 7000 trucks. The other  looks at a new consignment of more than 700 trucks that Vectra was allegedly trying to push through. In the former, the CBI has allegedly been granted permission by the Defence Ministry to prosecute VRS Natarajan, the chairman of BEML. Mr Natarajan has denied that he has ever received complaints about either the acquisition or the performance of Tatra trucks. He said he could not understand why the Army Chief might think of them as as "sub-standard".
The attention to Tatra trucks has been provoked by the Army Chief's disclosure last week that he was offered a bribe of 14 crores in 2010 to clear the purchase of "sub-standard" and overpriced trucks. He did not mention Tatra or the lobbyist who allegedly promised him a kickback. Defence Minister AK Antony, however, said that General VK Singh had identified the middleman to him as Tejinder Singh, a retired Lt Colonel. Early in March, the Army in a press release had said that Tejinder Singh had been offering bribes on behalf of Tatra and Vectra.


Read more at:
http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/defence-ministry-officials-to-be-interrogated-about-tatra-trucks-193351?pfrom=home-otherstories&cp

http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/tatra-divides-army-chief-predecessor-cbi-to-summon-beml-head-soon/470062/
Tatra divides Army chief, predecessor CBI to summon BEML head soon
BS Reporters / New Delhi/Bangalore Apr 04, 2012, 00:10 IST

The divide between Chief of Army Staff V K Singh and his predecessor, Deepak Kapoor, deepened as the latter on Tuesday said he had received no complaint from any level in the Army about the performance of the Tatra trucks. The now-controversial vehicles were made from CKD kits manufactured by Tatra Sipox and BEML Ltd.

Gen Kapoor, speaking to Business Standard, said he did not receive any complaints about Tatra from any of the departments till the time he left the Army two years ago. “Since all the issues are not brought before the Army Chief, it is also possible that these complaints were addressed at the level of additional director general or the director-generals concerned,” he added.
Gen Singh, who succeeded him as the Army Chief, has consistently been against the purchase of Tatra trucks that were first inducted into the force in 1987. It was during Gen Singh’s tenure that the defence ministry, for the first time, issued global tenders for the purchase of all-weather trucks. Tatra Sipox is a UK-based subsidiary of the Tatra AS in the Czech Republic.

On its part, BEML is preparing a presentation before the defence ministry to take part in the next tranche of the procurement process of trucks for the forces. V R S Natarajan, chairman and managing director of the Bangalore-based defence PSU, hopes that the company too would get a chance to give its proposal, as BEML has also submitted a request for proposal.

Natarajan says he was not interrogated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which has been probing alleged irregularities in the Tatra truck sale to the Indian Army. Reacting to news reports in a section of the media, he told this newspaper that he did not want to be part of the controversy. “I have already made our (BEML’s) stand clear in the truck sale deal,” he recalled. “As of now, I have not been questioned by the CBI in this case.”

According to television news reports, the CBI was likely to seek permission from the government to question the BEML chief. Yesterday, the central investigating agency had interrogated Vectra Group chief Ravinder Rishi.

CBI questions Rishi again
The CBI has registered a case of cheating and criminal conspiracy against 57-year-old Rishi along with unnamed officials of defence ministry, Indian Army and public sector enterprise BEML. He was questioned regarding certain “procedural lapses” that took place in the supplying of Tatra trucks to BEML, besides the ownership pattern of Tatra Sipox which he created in Richmond, Surrey.

The agency is now likely to summon Natarajan for questioning shortly. It is investigating the matter from 1997 onwards, when the deal between BEML and Tatra was struck for the first time. The CBI is collating a list of officials involved in taking decisions regarding such deals ever since. Very soon, it will be quizzing some of the serving as well as retired officials of the defence ministry.

The investigative agency is also going to seek assistance from defence ministry officials and officials of its vigilance wing to understand the technical and procedural aspects of the case.

The CBI has alleged that BEML entered into a criminal conspiracy with Tatra Sipox, which had a similar name to a Czech company Tatra AS and manufactured military trucks. The CBI, in its FIR, has said that “The agreement signed earlier with a Foreign Trade Corporation of Czechoslovakia for military vehicles was fraudulently assigned to the said UK-based company by showing it as the original OEM/fully-owned subsidiary of the Czech company.”

The agency has further alleged that in this manner, vehicles worth over thousands of crores of rupees have been supplied to Indian Army, causing undue benefit to Tatra, BEML and defence ministry officials.


http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/NewDelhi/Army-chief-to-visit-Nepal-with-curtailed-delegation/Article1-835022.aspx
Army chief to visit Nepal with curtailed delegation
Army chief Gen VK Singh is scheduled to embark on a two-day visit to Nepal on Wednesday with only a few aides as the defence ministry has curtailed the size of his delegation.

The General's wife Bharati Singh, who was initially supposed to travel with him, will not accompany him
now.

Gen Singh is scheduled to take part in a regional disaster management and counter terrorism seminar being held in Kathmandu on April 5 and chaired by the Nepalese army chief.

Last month also, the defence ministry had cancelled Gen Singh's four-day visit to Israel citing the prevailing political situation in the west Asian and Middle East.

The stay and size of the delegation for the visit was curtailed as it was for a seminar only and not a bilateral visit by the chief, sources said in New Delhi.

The army chief had proposed to stay in Nepal till April 8 after the conclusion of the seminar on April 5 and there was no requirement to stay there beyond the duration of the seminar, they said.

He is now scheduled to visit Kathmandu on Wednesday and return on April 6, they said.

After the General lost his battle on the age row in Supreme Court in February, the defence ministry and the army chief were mired in fresh controversy over Gen Singh's claims that he was offered a Rs 14 crore bribe and he had informed defence minister AK Antony about it.

The relations further strained after the leakage of a top secret letter from the army chief to the Prime Minister on poor state of preparedness of the forces for which the political parties had blamed Gen Singh.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/business-news/WorldEconomy/Money-and-the-military/Article1-835010.aspx
Money and the military
Which are the agencies involved in defence production and purchase in India?
The ministry of defence (MoD) is the final authority on defence purchases.  The department of defence production oversees purchases. The department is vested with the overall responsibility for
growth of indigenous defence industry as well as framing of policies.

What is the present state of the Indian defence industry?
In India, there are nine defence public sector undertakings, with each of them catering to a specific class of items such as Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd for aircraft and helicopters. There are also about 40 ordnance factories or departmental manufacturing facilities and about 90 private companies licensed to manufacture a wide range of items.

What role do ordnance factories play in defence production?
The ordnance factories are strategic and dedicated production base for armoury. The product range includes small, medium and heavy calibre guns, propellant, explosives, armoured vehicles such as T-90 and Arjun, transport vehicles and parachutes and troop comfort equipment among others.

Who runs India’s indigenous missile development programme?
Bharat Dynamics Ltd is the primary production agency for all missiles developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

What is the current state of the domestic private defence industry?
The defence industry was opened for the private sector in May 2001 with foreign direct investment (FDI) allowed up to 26% subject to licensing. Guidelines for licensing of production of arms and ammunition were notified in January 2002. Many private companies such as the Tata Group, Larsen and Toubro, Mahindra Group, and Wipro have already entered into agreements with foreign companies for manufacturing items as diverse as helicopter cabins and armoured vehicles.

What are the guiding principles of the defence procurement process?
Defence procurement procedures (DPP) and accompanying policies have to balance three competing aims: facilitate the expedient acquisition and scaling up of new technologies and capabilities for the Indian armed forces, conform to the highest standards of transparency, probity and public accountability and develop an indigenous Indian defence industry capable of providing near autonomy in defence production.

Why has India being spending less than annual allocation in defence?
Over the last decade, every year, sizeable funds have been surrendered as ‘unspent’ and returned to the finance ministry. A major reason for the under- spending is the time frame allotted to the Services for the expenditure.

Currently, the procurements undertaken by the MoD are done according to the Annual Acquisition Plans (AAP) and the Services Capital Acquisition Plan (SCAP). Given the estimated length of a typical acquisition, it is sometimes difficult to plan in which particular year a major procurement spend will be incurred. This can lead to under spending of the allotted budget if the spend fails to materialise in the relevant planned years but is deferred to later years.

The surrendered amount is relocated to the finance ministry and may not be available for the MoD under the following year’s budget. There has been a demand to introduce the concept of rolling budgets, allotting the under- spending to the following year’s budget in order to ensure that on-going procurements are not stopped for lack of funds.
What are Indian Army’s acquisition plans over the next 10 years?

Army’s 10–year acquisition plan includes ultra light howitzers, towed and wheeled 155m guns, self-propelled tracked and wheeled guns, mounted gun systems, air defence guns, surface to air missiles with different ranges, futuristic infantry combat vehicles, artillery rockets, assault rifles, battle field surveillance radars, weapon locating radars and night vision equipment among others.

What is India’s biggest military deal?
India has picked French firm Dassault Aviation’s Rafale fighter jets over Eurofighter Typhoon in a hotly contested deal of 126 advanced combat aircraft in deal worth $18 billion (R90,000 crore).

What’s next in the fighter aircraft arena?
India and Russia are jointly developing 5th generation fighter aircraft and will spend $300 billion (Rs 15 lakh crore) on 300 planes.

http://twocircles.net/2012apr03/all_not_well_south_block_still.html
By N.C. Bipindra, IANS,

New Delhi : The acrimony and bad blood between Indian Army chief, Gen. V.K. Singh, and the defence ministry headed by A.K. Antony may seem to have temporarily cooled off after conciliatory noises from both sides, but all is not well between the civilian and military establishment at South Block.

The tension between the two - and their offices - is quite palpable in the seat of the defence ministry and the army headquarters, despite both Antony and Gen. Singh voicing sentiments to the contrary in public.

If the "schism", to borrow a word from the army chief himself, is growing, then the blame should go to both Antony and Gen. Singh for pushing it to limits and for not weeding out those fomenting trouble for them. And this uneasy relationship has not helped decision-making in the defence ministry and the armed forces, or in taking forward some critical reforms and policy initiatives, well informed sources told IANS.

Antony is definitely "hurt" with the recent developments, caused by Gen. Singh's claims of a retired lieutenant general offering him a bribe of Rs.14 crore to clear a deal for "sub-standard" trucks and that he promptly keeping Antony in the know.

This led to Antony facing an attack from the opposition. Known as "Mr. Clean" and "St. Antony", the 71-year-old Congressman's carefully built incorruptible image was shaken, if not stirred. He was almost in tears, when he defended himself in the Rajya Sabha.

That anguish came out in the form his cryptic remarks that he would not reveal his "personal feelings" about the tussle with the army chief.

His aide though revealed, speaking metaphorically, the secret of how his boss felt: "Doctors have informed him that he has pain in the neck and that he has to suffer it."

A senior bureaucrat in the ministry said: "He (Antony) is still angry and is not willing to let go of the issue." But he did not elaborate, suggesting there could be more to come in the coming days.

The feeling is appears to be mutual and starched at the army headquarters as well. "We just want this two months to get over quickly and without any further trouble," a senior army officer, a close aide of Gen Singh, told IANS, who said he would not like to be identified.

The office is worried of "repercussions" on people like him after the general lays down office on May 31.

There have been a series of tug-of-war between the two sides with snubs and counter-snubs between the defence ministry and the army, since the Supreme Court decided on Gen. Singh's date of birth on Feb 10, virtually upholding the government's stand that for all official purposes and to determine his service tenure, 1950 will be the year of birth.

The rejection of the army chief's recommendation of appointment of Director General of Military Operations Lt. Gen. A.K. Choudhary, as the director general of Assam Rifles, was also objected to by the defence ministry as it did not have the approval of the defence secretary or a competent civilian authority.

Gen. Singh, who is popular among the men and women he commands as an upright officer with an unblemished service record, has just about two months to retire on May 31, as per the retirement warning letter reportedly issued to him in February.

This retirement warning letter was leaked to the media just five days ahead of the government naming present Eastern Army Commander Lt. Gen. Bikram Singh as the army chief-designate, unusually a month before it is normally announced, to leave no doubts on who will succeed the incumbent.

Yes, the army chief did precipitate matters by moving the Supreme Court over his age row in January. But the latest in the bitter saga has been Antony's direction Monday to the army to set right its in-house acquisition processes to fix accountability for slippages, even as the ministry cleared military modernisation plans for the next 15 years.

This is seen as the defence minister's attempt at putting the blame for the delays in acquisitions-a corollary that emerges from the gaps in defence preparedness that the army chief so diligently pointed out to both Antony and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a letter-at the army's doorsteps.

Just last Thursday, Antony had claimed that all the three services chiefs-Gen. Singh included-enjoyed the confidence of the government and this was reciprocated by the army chief, who praised Antony at a conference of ex-servicemen in Gurgaon during the weekend, apart from issuing two statements to select media that some "rogue elements" were trying to cause a wedge between him and Antony, whereas all is hunky dory between the two.

If the trust hasn't diminished, why should the government cut short both Gen. Singh's delegation to Nepal and the number of days he proposed to stay in Kathmandu, just three days before he was leaving to the neighbouring country?

The Indian Army chief is attending a two-day regional disaster management and counter-terrorism meet to be chaired by his Nepalese counterpart beginning April 4. Gen. Singh was the stay for two more days to hold a bilateral meeting with his counterpart and for signing of a bilateral agreement on military assistance. The later two-day part of the visit has been cancelled by the defence ministry, apart from withdrawing the delegation that was to accompany the army chief for the purposes originally listed.

The genesis of the "trust deficit" between the two sides is obviously the age row that festered for long. But the actions of the defence ministry since the Feb 10 apex court settling the age issue for the government, saw the government snubbing the army chief on nearly a dozen occasions. Or at least attempts have been made to send the message across to Gen. Singh that he put in his papers or go on leave.

Before this Nepal trip being nipped, the defence ministry had nixed the army chief's four-day visit to Israel in February. The cancellation of the Israel visit came close on the heels of his return from United Kingdom, where he gone just two days after the Supreme Court verdict.

Then came the virtual rejection of the army chief's "transformation" plans for the 1.13-million force. Now, that ambitious plan of the army chief, who as the Kolkata-based Eastern Army Commander pioneered it, will have to await his successor before it sees the light of the day and so will the formal Israel visit of an Indian army chief.

Not only this policy proposed by Gen. Singh has gone into cold storage. His request for a change in the promotion policy for senior-level army officers from the existing selection system as well as the practice to bifurcate major generals and lieutenant generals into 'command' and 'staff' streams, which were implemented by his predecessor Gen. Deepak Kapoor in 2009, has been pushed to the law ministry for further bureaucratic spin.

Gen. Singh's interviews to the media on the bribe offer from a truck dealer's representative, identified as Lt. Gen. (retired) Tejinder Singh by Antony in parliament while quoting the army chief, and the alleged leak of his letter to the prime minister on the gaps in defence preparedness have definitely angered politicians and retired bureaucrats, even making them call for his sacking and forcing him to go home on forced leave.

But there have been leaks from the defence ministry too. Take for example the hullabaloo over the alleged bug planted in Antony's office and the blame placed on the Military Intelligence, which is under the army chief. The defence ministry later denied there was any bug in the defence minister's most secure South Block office.

A day later, though, there was another leak in the form of an "anonymous complaint" that an 'off-the-air interceptor' equipment was used to listen into conversations of the country's top security brass, including Antony, at the peak of the age controversy.

No confirmation on this snooping episode has come from any official in the defence ministry or even a denial, except the one from the army headquarters, which blamed the same retired lieutenant general, involved in the bribe offer episode, for "planting" these stories in the media. Gen. Singh also separately dismissed the allegations as fiction.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/Army-allows-Royal-Western-India-Turf-Club-to-use-bund-school/articleshow/12512945.cms
Army allows Royal Western India Turf Club to use bund school
PUNE: The Local Military Authority (LMA) has allowed the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) to use the bund school located on the general parade ground to train young colts, as a 'goodwill gesture'.

The move comes after the RWITC withdrew the writ petition it had filed against the LMA in the Bombay high court, regarding a dispute over the use of land that was extended on lease to the RWITC.

The Army Southern Command issued a release stating that a meeting was held between the committee members of the RWITC and the LMA, Pune, on March 31. "A large number of issues were raised by the committee members during their discussion. The LMA, Pune, stressed upon the need of re-establishing harmonious relationship and has assured RWITC representatives of their concerns being addressed without compromising organisational interest, security and integrity of the Pune Cantonment," the release stated.

"As a goodwill gesture the LMA, Pune, has allowed the usage of the bund school located on the general parade ground for training of young colts on a formal written request from the RWITC," the release added.

Meanwhile, the RWITC, too, confirmed the development in a separate release issued here on Monday. "The General Officer Commanding in Chief of Southern Command Lt Gen A K Singh had an informal meeting with the RWITC chairman Vivek Jain at an equestrian event in Mumbai - the first time since the club withdrew its writ petition from the high court," the release stated.

Jain said, "It was very cordial, as have been all his meetings with Lt Gen A K Singh. The desire to work in harmony and not to create any hindrances in the working of the horses or in the conduct of racing was expressed at this meeting."

As a first step, the LMA has given approval for the horses to work in the "bund school" and for cars to be parked on the left side of Burnett Road near the Turf Club House, the RWITC release said.

It added that the two organisations would meet at frequent intervals to address the recent differences, which would gradually be ironed out. "The LMA has also written to the RWITC that it would respect both the lease deed and the MOUs signed by the club," the release said.

Jain said, "We are happy that the legal conflict with the Army has been withdrawn. It is the desire of both sides to ensure racing does not suffer. The LMA desires to make a polo/equestrian field in the general parade ground, which can be used in the off season, and that is certainly desirable. The RWITC committee is unanimous in its views on the relationship with the LMA and we are confident things will progress for the good of the sport and the club."

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