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Friday, 30 March 2012

But junior minister admits there are gaps in armed forces’ capability


… But junior minister admits there are gaps in armed forces' capability

New Delhi, Mar 28 (PTI): Accepting that there are gaps in the capability of the armed forces, the Defence Ministry today said that it would take cognizance of the concerns expressed by Army Chief General V K Singh and will address those issues.
Talking to reporters on the sidelines of a function here, Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju said the acquisition policy is also being changed to ensure faster procurement of the needs expressed by the forces.
"Definitely gaps are there and government is serious in addressing them as quickly as possible. We are fine tuning the acquisition process to speed up the process and government has been very responsive to the needs of the armed forces," Raju said.
Asked to comment on the letter written by the Army Chief to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressing concern over the state of preparedness of the Army and availability of ammunition, he said the government will take cognizance of it.
"Whatever he (Gen Singh) has written, we will definitely take into cognizance and we will act on it," he said.
Later talking to reporters outside Parliament, Raju said the Army Chief has his own "anxieties" and the matter is not for public debate.
"Whatever he (Gen Singh) has written, we will definitely take cognizance of the fact, but I guess as a Chief he has his own anxieties and it is something not for public debate," he said.
To a question on acquisition of defence equipments and systems, he said, "There are gaps in the capability and we are trying to bridge them by speeding up the acquisition process and by making it transparent, because in the past it has resulted in the cancellation of tenders."
"In the past, lack of transparency has harmed us resulting in cancellation of tenders and orders. We do not want that to happen again, because if the acquisition is delayed it affects the capability of the forces," Raju said.
On changes in acquisition policy, he said, "We are changing policy wherever possible. Because every time an irregularity is pointed out and every time a cancellation happens, it results in our buying the same equipment at a much more larger price and much later in time."
"To minimize such things...one of the things we have done for purchases over Rs 100 crore, we have asked the vendors to sign integrity pact," he added.
Praising the process followed by Indian Air Force (IAF) for determining the lowest bidder in Medium-Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) deal, he said the Ministry will certainly look into complaints of any nature.
"I think IAF has done a tremendous job with the way they have shortlisted the vendors and the way they have done the process of determining the lowest bidder. Nevertheless if there are any complaints, the Ministry will certainly look into it," he said.