Chopper deal: MoD tells firm to reply by Nov 26

The meeting was arranged after the Italian firm sent repeated requests for an opportunity to present its case in person.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: November 12, 2013 2:14:05 am

Making it clear that it will not set any more deadlines for Italian firm AgustaWestland in the VVIP chopper controversy,the defence ministry has asked it to reply to its final showcause notice for cancellation of the contract by November 26. The defence ministry has also asked the company to present its case at a meeting on November 20.

The meeting was arranged after the Italian firm sent repeated requests for an opportunity to present its case in person. Sources said that company representatives would meet officials dealing with the case in the defence ministry.

On October 21,the MoD had sent a showcause notice to the firm seeking a reply by November 11,asking why “all or any action as prescribed,including cancellation of the contract,should not be taken against them for violating the terms of the pre-integrity pact and the contract for procurement of 12 VVIP choppers”.

In the past,the defence minister has said there is enough evidence to invoke the stringent integrity clause in the contract as the Italian firm has violated rules

pertaining to anti corruption measures.

Meanwhile,the defence ministry cleared several proposals at the defence acquisition council meet on Monday,including the procurement of over 1.3 lakh night sights for carbines. The contract,estimated to be close to Rs 3,800 crore,can spin off as a major deal for the defence industry as the private sector too will be invited to participate. Significantly,the contract will specify that high technology image intensification tubes will have to be produced within the country.

The ministry,however,has not yet taken a decision on procurement of over 1,900 Spike anti- tank guided missile systems from Israeli firm Rafael worth over Rs 15,000 crore — a contract that has seen ups and downs over the past few years.

A decision has also been taken to extend the deadline by three months for a tender for replacements of the Avro aircraft. The decision to extend the deadline beyond December for the procurement of 56 aircraft comes after Heavy Industries Minister Praful Patel wrote to Antony protesting the exclusion of PSUs from the tender.

Other contracts approved include the procurement of over 58,000 extended range BM 21 GRAD rockets from Russia for over Rs 680 crore and specialised vehicles for T90 tanks worth Rs 137 crore.

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