Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Gorshkov deal not yet finalised: India


Several controversies and five years after India announced that a Russian sea-based aircraft carrier, Admiral Gorshkov, will be added to the Naval fleet, Defence Minister AK Antony today said: “We have not signed any contract (with the Russians) only negotiations are going on.” A final decision on the contract will be taken after we verify everything including the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India. Nothing has been decided the minister said as he attempted to put a lid on the controversy which started last week when the CAG “ripped through” the ministry of defence for paying some Rs 10,000 crore more than what was due for the aircraft carrier.Antony’s statement was made to a supplementary question raised by T Shiva of Tamil Nadu in which he also admitted, “I agree Russia has asked for a substantially huge amount.” The CAG report had said that "second-hand" carrier will be 60 per cent costlier than a new one and there is the risk of further delay in its delivery.

In his reply Antony put forward something which may have missed the audit books of the CAG: “Very few countries manufacture such carriers and as per the international relations prevailing in 2004, no country other than Russia was ready to give us a warship of this kind.” Russia agreed to gift the carrier to us. (India had to pay for the re-fit and the fighter jets that would be on the deck of the warship) Russia failed to calculate the cost of the re-fit.In a way Antony may be right the NATO countries have the capability to make such warships and they were not keen to arm India

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