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Tatra: ‘Loopholes’ in reply,CBI to quiz BEML chief again

Probing into the alleged irregularities pertaining to the supply of Tatra trucks to the Army,the CBI has found several ‘loopholes’

Written by Rahul Tripathi | New Delhi |
June 11, 2012 3:18:54 am

Probing into the alleged irregularities pertaining to the supply of Tatra trucks to the Army,the CBI has found several ‘loopholes’ in the reply provided by Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML),the defence PSU.

The all-terrain trucks were being supplied by BEML in collaboration with Tatra Sipox UK. The agency,which began investigations two months ago,had sent a detailed questionnaire to BEML seeking clarification regarding the procurement and indiginisation. It received the reply on May 31 in which BEML claimed that 62 per cent of indiginisation of Tatra trucks have been completed. However,the MoD-CBI team that recently visited BEML plants in Bangalore had said in its report that not even 30 per cent of indigenisation had been achieved. The reply provided by Director,defence business,P K Naik also stated that BEML is the custodian of all ‘drawings’ and ‘technical information’ on T 815 models being supplied by Tatra to the Army.

“Despite the BEML claim that they have the drawings and technical information on the variant of Tatra trucks being supplied to the Army,the indiginisation work has not been completed. We are examining the BEML reply in detail and will soon summon them for further examinations,” said a CBI official.

Last month,the CBI had questioned BEML CMD V R S Natarajan. It plans to examine him again on the replies received from BEML. It was learnt from the examination of BEML’s records and replies that the PSU had taken Rs 30 crore from the Ministry of Defence in 1988 for setting up a plant to manufacture Tatra trucks as technology was being transferred. In its reply the PSU has claimed that no plant has been set up and only a small unit to manufacture gear boxes for Tatra trucks is operational at KGF unit near Bangalore.

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After scrutinising the reply,the agency has alleged that BEML,by revising the contract in 2003,helped the entry of two variants of Tatra trucks through the backdoor. “It was found that Tatra Heavy Recovery Vehicle and Tatra’s Crash Fire Tender were made part of the 2003 contract. This was done without carrying out the trial of these vehicles. The 2003 contract was drawn after revising the 1997 contract which was for 10 years,” said the official. The agency believes this was done to benefit Ravi Rishi’s Tatra Sipox-Vectra group. Vectra,which has controlling stake in Tatra Sipox UK is under the scanner over alleged irregularities in the supply of trucks.

The agency has registered a case naming Rishi and unnamed officials of the MoD,Army and BEML on March 30 for alleged criminal conspiracy,cheating,and under relevant sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The agency is probing into alleged irregularities in assigning of supply from Czechoslovakia-based Tatra,with which the agreement was originally signed in 1986,to the Tatra Sipox UK,owned by Rishi,in 1997,showing it as original equipment manufacturer and fully-owned subsidiary of the Czech company,which was against the provisions of defence procurement procedure.

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