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Thursday, 9 July 2015

From Today's Papers - 09 Jul 2015

India, Kazakhstan ink pacts on defence, uranium supply
Astana, July 8
India and Kazakhstan today inked five key agreements, including a defence pact to enhance military cooperation and a contract for supply of uranium, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev held comprehensive talks in which they decided to actively engage in the fight against terrorism and extremism.

Modi, who held restricted as well as delegation-level talks with Nazarbayev, noted that they also agreed to work closely to expand bilateral trade by addressing structural impediments between India and hydrocarbon-rich Kazakhstan.

“We have shared perspectives on many international issues, including regional peace, connectivity and integration; reforms in the United Nations; and, combating terrorism,” the Prime Minister said at a joint press event here with Nazarbayev.

Noting that the defence and security cooperation was an important dimension of strategic partnership between the two countries, Modi said, “We both want to make it stronger, including in defence manufacturing. We welcome the new memorandum of understanding on defence cooperation.”

The MoU would further widen the scope of bilateral defence cooperation, including regular exchange of visits, consultations, training of military personnel, military- technical cooperation, joint exercises, special forces’ exchanges and cooperation in UN peacekeeping operations.

Welcoming the signing of a contract between NC “KazAtomProm” JSC and NPCIL for a renewed long-term supply of natural uranium to India to meet its energy requirements, Modi said, “Kazaksthan was one of the first countries with which we launched civil nuclear cooperation through a uranium purchase contract. “We are pleased to have a much larger second contract now. We intend to expand cooperation in other minerals as well”.

A joint statement ‘Tej kadam’ was also released after talks, which said the leaders noted the rising challenge posed by terrorism in many parts of the world and in their immediate region and underlined the importance of a stable and secure environment for peaceful economic development. — PTI
High cost delays Navy’s deal for anti-sub copters
Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 8
Efforts by the Navy’s to be better equipped to locate Chinese submarines in the Indian Ocean through specialised helicopters seem to have hit a roadblock, at least for the moment.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has ordered fresh cost-negotiation with US firm Sikorsky, selected through a tender in December last, for the supply of 16 multi-role helicopters.

In December last, the Navy had selected Sikorsky’s S-70B Seahawk, a 10-tonne twin-engine helicopter. It has advanced anti-ship and anti-submarine warfare capability.

To be based on warships, these copters will carry submarine-locating buoys, which are dunked in the sea to capture the noise of undersea vessels. The correct location allows a copter to fire a missile at a submarine.

Top sources told The Tribune that cost was “surely an issue”. The tender was first floated in 2007 and the company had expressed its inability to supply the copters at the then prevailing cost.

Sources said the “acceptance of necessity” for the copters was made by the MoD in 2006-07, assuming Rs900 crore as the cost of these 16 copters, which was later revised to Rs1,760 crore. The current cost of such copters is estimated to be between Rs3,500 crore and Rs4,000 crore, said sources.

The cost-negotiation committee will now need approval from the MoD to re-negotiate at fresh benchmarks prices, ignoring the figures decided in 2006-07.

At present, the Navy has a fleet 16 Westland Sea King Mk42B/C anti-submarine helicopters of the 1980s vintage, of which 12 are operational at any point in time. Another 10 Kamov-28 copters are being upgraded by Russia.

The Chinese, in the past one year, have conducted three submarine patrols close to the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea, the last being in May.
Ex-servicemen block highway over OROP
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 8
Traffic on the Bathinda-Chandigarh highway was hit as ex-servicemen today blocked the highway outside the cantonment area here demanding the implementation of the ‘one rank, one pension’ (OROP) policy. The highway remained closed for more than two hours.

As the number of stranded vehicles increased, the district administration diverted these from Bucho towards Nathana and other villages.

Around 2,000 ex-servicemen from across the state participated in the protest.

On seeing the large number of protesters, Army officials closed all gates leading to the cantonment.

Carrying placards and wearing black badges, ex-servicemen raised slogans against the Modi government and its Finance and Defence Ministers for not implementing the scheme. At 10 am, a large number of ex-servicemen gathered outside the cantonment police station.

Some protesters held a march from the Sub-Area gate to the Corps HQ gate. As the gate was closed, these protesters had to sit in Chetak Park.

The large number of ex-servicemen who remained at the Sub-Area gate blocked the Bathinda-Chandigarh highway stating that a senior Army official should come and take their memorandum.

Seeing the situation had become tense, SP City Desraj and Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Damanjit Singh Mann reached the spot and requested the protesters to clear the highway, but the ex-servicemen stayed put for more than two hours.

Then, the SDM talked with Army officials and took a few protesters, who were sitting at Chetak Park, to Army officials. Only when the protesters handed over the memorandum to them was _the protest called off.

Brigadier Indermohan Singh (retd), president, Indian Ex-Services League, Punjab, said, “OROP has been a long-standing demand of ex-servicemen and relates to payment of uniform pension to defence forces personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement.” He apologised to the commuters who had to face harassment today due to road blockage.

He warned that veterans would not rest until the _government implemented OROP and that the protest would be intensified in the coming days.
‘Critical’ shortages of ammunition nearly made up, Army to PAC - See more at:
The “critical” shortage of ammunition in the army, pointed out in the CAG report in May, has been overcome to a significant extent, Defence Ministry and army officials have told the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC). “The criticality has been met by a two-pronged approach: asking Ordnance Factories Board (OFB) to produce well in time, and by progressing the import cases faster . It has been a high priority area for the Defence Minister (Manohar Parrikar),” said a senior military official.

The ministry and army officials deposed before the PAC on June 14. The PAC, which examines the CAG audit report after it is laid in Parliament, comprises 22 MPs and is currently headed by Congress MP Prof K V Thomas.
When the army does not have enough ammunition to sustain even 10 days of intense war, the situation is considered “critical”. CAG had warned that as of March 2013, half of the 170 types of ammunition with the army would not last 10 days of war.

As per Defence Ministry’s 1979 policy (revised in 2010 with no substantial change), army is supposed to maintain its ammunition reserves for 40 days of intense war. This quantity is called War Wastage Reserve. After the Kargil War, the army came up with a policy to hold ammunition for at least 20 days of intense war, calling it ‘Bottom Line’ or ‘Minimum Acceptable Risk Level’.

CAG had also said 74 per cent — 125 out of the 170 types of ammunition — were below the Bottom Line holding. As per the report, OFB had failed to supply the army with the targeted quantity, leading to supply shortfalls in 73 per cent of ammunition types.

Sources said the quantity of ammunition procured by the army in 2014-15 is worth around Rs 900 crore more than the average quantity purchased in earlier years. Barring one item, the army is confident of overcoming “critical” level for all types of ammunition by 2016. In May, Parrikar had assured, “We will overcome the shortfall within one and half years. The gap has been filled 50 per cent and process of remaining 50 per cent is underway.”

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