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Thursday, 7 April 2016

From Today's Papers - 07 Apr 2016

CBI probing corruption in two military farms
Allegations of inflated payments, fudged records over hay purchase
Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 6
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has started investigations into the allegations of corruption and non-payment of dues to contractors at two military farms in Jammu and Nowshera.

The CBI took up the matter for investigation after receiving two complaints last year against some officers, including civilians, posted at these military farms and the branch overseeing these farms at the Northern Command headquarters in Udhampur.

One of the complainants has alleged misappropriation of government money, fabrication of documents and payments made to unauthorised persons by the said officers in the procurement of bales of hay valued at several crores of rupees. Records were fudged over the quantity of hay received at military farms, and only part payments were made to the contractor, the complainant has alleged.

Further, the security deposit for the tender was also not released.

There are a number of military farms across the country which provide fresh milk and milk products to the armed forces through the livestock maintained by it. Conceived in 1889 by the British, the military farms are being shut down in a phased manner with only a handful now functional as their relevance has been reduced because of the easy availability of milk from the civilian markets.

According to sources, CBI officials visited the office of the Director, Military Farms, in the Northern Command last month and have also been to the two military farms several times. They have taken various documents and records into their custody for scrutiny and have questioned some persons.

The counsel for the complainant, Col SK Aggarwal (retd), maintained that he was contacted by the CBI officials twice over the past few weeks for providing some information pertaining to the matter.

He said a complaint had been made earlier too over the issue to the Army authorities in the Northern Command, but the case had been closed after a one-man inquiry.
Indian Army Seeks New Source of Surface-to-Air Missile Defense System
NEW DELHI — The Indian Army is lobbying to purchase quick reaction surface-to-air missile systems (QRSAM) because the homemade Akash air defense system is slower and ineffective while on the move, an army official said.

"The reaction time of Akash is longer and has a radar coverage less than 360 degrees. QRSAMs are needed to defend formations in the forward tactical battlefield area whereas Akash is being used for guarding its assets located in deeper areas inside the country," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Rahul Bhonsle, a retired Indian Army brigadier general, said: "Akash is suited for static air defense where the response time may be longer, thus the same may not be suitable for employment in the tactical battle area given the need for quick reaction and speedy engagements. Moreover, it appears that the Army also wants a mobile AD system whereas the Akash may not be as agile and also has a larger footprint."

No Ministry of Defense (MoD) official would comment on the Indian Army's demand that MoD purchase a surface-to-air missile system to supplement the Akash.
"This is one of the major indigenous programs that has been shot down by the Army. Better coordination between the design and development agencies and the Army is crucial to prevent such occurrences and salvage Make in India,” said Ankur Gupta, an analyst with Ernst and Young India. The Make in India policy's goal is to reduce weapon imports from 70 percent of acquisitions to about 50 percent in the next 10 years.

Since the only Indian-made Trishul surface-to-air system, developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), was dumped 10 years ago because of technical failures, the only option is to import a system, the Indian Army official said.

After the Trishul system failed, the Indian Air Force imported the Spyder from Rafael Advanced Defense Systems of Israel and subsequently acquired the Akash system as well.

The Indian Army has acquired only the Akash, worth over $2.5 billion, but floated a $1.5 billion tender to acquire more systems.

It was issued to global and domestic defense companies, including Russia’s Rosoboronexport, Raytheon of the United States, Israel Aerospace Industries, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, Tetraedr of Belarus, South Korea’s Doosan Group and LIG Nex1, Thales and Eurosam of France, Diehl Defense of Germany, and pan-European MBDA.
However, no MoD official would comment on the status of procurement.

A tender issued in 2008 had poor response from overseas defense companies because of issues regarding the transfer of technology, and the technical features of the requirement. Only Rafael had been selected after technical evaluation, and the tender had to be withdrawn because it was on a single vendor basis.

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