Clearing defence procurement mess of previous government: Parrikar

New Delhi, Dec 14 (IANS) Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday said he is clearing the mess in defence procurements created by the previous United Progressive Alliance government.

“I don’t intent to point fingers. This is not for blame game. But in 2006, the procurement process starts and there are so many errors, mistakes, casualness; and things were moving in cycles. Slowly, but surely, these issues are getting sorted out,” Parikkar said.

He was speaking at a conference on Defence Production: Self-Reliance and Beyond organised by Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India and Bharat Niti, a policy advisory organisation.

“… I am very sure the road ahead is very clear,” the minister added.

Explaining why the government cannot clear defence deals in haste, he said: “If you don’t go through the fine print, we will end up buying 272 fighters without any real transfer of technology. How do you explain that?”

India has purchased 272 Su-30 MKI fighters from Russia. The deal was signed in 2000 between the two countries to license manufacture 140 aircraft at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.

As for the inability of the public sector to absorb technology, Parrikar said: “There are so many products that we have developed. The HAL is manufacturing so many products. Then why are they facing problems in commercial production of Light Combat Aircraft?”

“I had to carry out a series of meetings to thrash out internal difference as even after trials it was not going further. Today, we have given order for 83 Tejas (MK1) with full weaponry and active electronically scanned array radars. Because they were thinking in silos,” he added.

The government last month cleared a proposal for the purchase of 83 HAL-manufactured Light Combat Aircraft Tejas for the Indian Air Force.

Parrikar said in many defence procurement cases, competitors wrongly accused the winning bidder of malpractices just to delay signing of deals.