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Sunday, 28 June 2015

From Today's Papers - 28 Jun 2015













http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/light-combat-helicopter-clears-hot-weather-trials/99564.html
Light Combat Helicopter clears hot weather trials
Jodhpur, June 27
The Light Combat Helicopter (LCH)–3, a versatile combat chopper developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), has successfully completed the hot weather flight trials in Jodhpur.

The chopper, at present under a testing phase, cleared the test yesterday, paving the way for the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC). It is likely to enter production from 2017-18.

“The week-long test flight schedule of the LCH was carried out in the temperature range of 39 to 42°C,” said an IAF official.

The third technology demonstrator (TD-3) of LCH was ferried from Bengaluru to Jodhpur for the trials. Pilots from the Indian Air Force and the Army, along with the representatives of certification teams, were present during the trial. — PTI

http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/iaf-wants-chandigarh-airport-shut-for-9-months-centre-says-no/99622.html
IAF wants Chandigarh airport shut for 9 months, Centre says no
Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 27
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has sought a nine-month closure of the Chandigarh air base, while the Ministry of Defence has opposed the long break in operations as it would cause inconvenience to passengers taking commercial flights that use the same landing strip.

Militarily, it would not affect much as the IAF can temporarily relocate its Chandigarh-based fleet of IL-76 and AN-32 transport planes to nearby bases like Ambala or Sarsawa (Saharanpur).

However, 25 civilian domestic flights daily would be affected and the expected commencement of international flights from the city beautiful, the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana, would have to be suspended.

Top sources have confirmed, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has made it clear to the IAF that “nine months is too long a period to close the airport of a city which is the capital of two states”. He wants the IAF to work out a solution that prevents such a long closure and study the model adopted for re-carpeting of the landing strip in Goa, which is the Indian Navy’s biggest air base and home for Navy’s sea-going fleet of MiG29-K fighter jets. Parikkar has said the Chandigarh project must be done on a 24x7 basis to avoid a long closure. Among the north Indian IAF bases being upgraded under the modernisation of airfield infrastructure project (MAFI) project, almost none has commercial flights.

Civilian flights use the same landing strip and a civilian terminal exist, while a new terminal, built at a cost of Rs 1,000 crore, is ready and awaits inauguration. The IAF uses the base to ferry supplies to forward Army bases in Ladakh, which have no road access during the six-month-long winter in the Himalayas.

The IAF wants to strengthen, upgrade, re-carpet, expand and add new landing aids at the 9,000-foot-long landing strip at the Chandigarh air base under the ongoing MAFI project. It was in 1992 that the landing strip was last re-carpeted and since then the load of military and civilian planes has increased manifold, sources said. The IAF needs to use the base to operate the heavy-lift cargo planes, the C-17 Globemaster, a fully loaded plane of this sort can weigh 125 tonnes, including its 74-tonne cargo carrying capacity. Last winter, the C-17s, which are based at Hindon near Delhi, operated for some time from Chandigarh ferrying loads to Ladakh.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/Boost-to-Make-in-India-Modi-govt-awards-56-defence-licences-to-private-cos-like-Mahindra-Tata-Pipavav/articleshow/47840296.cms
Boost to Make in India: Modi govt awards 56 defence licences to private cos like Mahindra, Tata & Pipavav
Manu Pubby, ET Bureau | Jun 27, 2015, 11.45AM IST
NEW DELHI: The Narendra Modi government has awarded a record 56 defence manufacturing permits to private sector entities in the past year, which is more than the 47 licences its predecessor UPA granted in the preceding three years combined and underlines its determination to have indigenous defence production as a cornerstone of its 'Make in India' drive.

Data released by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) shows that a slew of applications, some of which had been pending for more than four years, have been cleared since the BJP government came to power, in what is a major endorsement by it of the Indian private sector's ability to operate in an arena that has until now been the preserve of foreign vendors and state-run entities. The permits are the first step in the process to enable firms such as Mahindra, Tata and Pipavav to set up production units for major military equipment.

The Tatas will now be able to upgrade major fighting units like the T 90 and T 72 tanks of the Indian Army, while Mahindra, which has been steadily expanding its defence business in the past year, has been given permits in a number of areas, including manufacturing naval systems like torpedoes, sea mines and boats.

Subsidiary companies like Mahindra Telephonics Integrated Systems and Tech Mahindra Ltd too have got defence permits.

The permits are not only for the big boys of Indian industry, many of whom have existing defence arms and will be able to diversify their portfolios.. A slew of new small firms are poised to enter the sector based on these clearances. Bullet Proof equipment manufacturer MKU for example will now be able to manufacture night vision devices.

Bangalore-based Dynamatic Technologies has been granted a permit to manufacture Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.Pipavav Defence and Offshore Engineering Company (PDOC), which is now being acquired by the Anil Ambani-run Reliance, has got four permits to manufacture items ranging from medium tanks and howitzers to missiles, sensors and torpedoes. Experts said the government had done its bit and it was now up to the corporate sector to run with the baton.

"It is now up to the private sector to leverage these enhanced flexibilities and deliver on the ground," said Ankur Gupta of Ernst & Young India.

The expedited clearances are part of a series of measures taken by the government over the past year to open up the defence sector.

Since taking charge in May last year, the government has increased the foreign investment limit for the defence sector to 49% and even up to 100% in select cases.

It has already made the process for application online and the validity of the Industrial license has been enhanced to seven years. For smaller items like components, speedy DIPP clearances are already being given.

A new defence procurement policy is expected over the next few weeks that will further clarify complex matters such as the offset policy, blacklisting process as well as a specific route for the Make in India process.

http://www.newindianexpress.com/thesundaystandard/Fire-in-the-Hole-for-Five-Army-Whistleblowers/2015/06/28/article2889775.ece
Fire in the Hole for Five Army Whistleblowers
NEW DELHI:A major corruption scandal is staring the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in the face, concerning the distribution of health benefits for former servicemen that was outsourced to a private firm at an annual contract of Rs 400 crore during the UPA regime.
Four whistleblowers who had raised their voices against the “brazen acts of corruption” in the Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS)— responsible for distribution of health benefits to over 43 lakh retired defence personnel—have been humiliated and shunted out.

Col Vivek Bhat and Lt Col Manish have resigned, and Col Balraj Sardana and Brig Rajan Jamwal were unceremoniously removed. Another Colonel-rank officer (name withheld), who has written an official complaint, has also got marching orders for not toeing the line of his senior officers.

 The officer wrote a detailed letter to Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag, pointing out the wrongdoings in the department and connivance of senior officers with private players. Ironically, the army has not ordered a court of inquiry into the exposé as the matter involves officers of the rank of Major General and Brigadiers.

The matter has also been put up before Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who has sought a report from the army.

 ECHS was launched in April 2003 to provide allopathic medicare to defence pensioners and their dependents through a network of its polyclinics, service medical facilities and civil empanelled government hospitals across India. The scheme has been structured on the lines of the Central Government Health Scheme, which ensures cashless transactions, as far as possible, and is financed by the Centre.

Till now, 13,48,517 ex-servicemen have enlisted with the scheme along with their 30,03,577 dependents. Total beneficiaries amount to 43,52,094. The serving Colonel is working in the Delhi-based head office of the ECHS as the project officer of Smart Card which is to be given to the beneficiaries of the scheme.

In his letter, the Colonel writes, “I am pained to report to you on senior officers in ECHS, who have been acting against the interest of organisation and providing financial benefits to the firms providing services to ECHS. The senior officers do not take ownership of ECHS and rather show allegiance to the firms, which are required to provide services to ECHS, diluting the efforts of the staff to extract mandated services from the contractual firms.”

 The Colonel stated there were allegations of bribery against a private firm for seeking a “satisfactory performance certificate” and an inquiry was ordered by the office of the Vice-Chief of army staff. “But neither any action was taken against top officials of the ECHS nor against the defaulting firm.”

However, a show-cause notice was issued to the firm that had accepted the charges stating the officials concerned have been transferred out of the ECHS project, the Colonel wrote.

The Colonel, who was posted to the ECHS headquarters in January 2013, was shocked to find several undeliverables by the firm, which signed the Contract Agreement in May 2010 for the Smart Card Project.

“The renewal of the contract agreement in May 2010 is questionable since the firm had delivered just about 40 per cent of deliverables in the phase-I of the contract,” the Colonel said. The private firm, which has hired a retired Brigadier as its top functionary, was even charge-sheeted by the army while in service.

The officer alleged that when he confronted top ECHS officials, they started humiliating him and on January 2014, the Managing Director and Deputy MD asked him to hand over his Smart Card project responsibility to another officer.

Moreover, when a penalty clause was imposed on the firm by regional centres of ECHS for non-delivery of services as per the contract agreement, the top functionary—including the MD of ECHS—directed him to withdraw the penalty clause letter.

His seniors also tried to frame him by initiating an inquiry on the basis of an anonymous complaint. Army HQ did not reply to an email sent by this correspondent, seeking its response.

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