Parrikar to hold first meeting on acquisitions after Agusta scam put everything on hold
NEW DELHI: Several key defence acquisition cases are expected to get push in the next meeting of the apex body of the ministry of defence scheduled for June 15. Manohar Parrikar, who has returned from his four day overseas visit of attending Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore followed by Vietnam, will head the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC). This will be the first meeting of DAC after the AgustaWestland bribery scandal created storm in and outside the Parliament during second half of the budget session in April. The Ministry was virtually at standstill in absence of any decision related to military acquisitions.
Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by the Defence Minister and comprises officials from tri-services and officials from defence ministry, is the top body which gives nod for acquisitions and other modernization approvals.
But ever since the AgustaWestland scam resurfaced, no meeting of DAC could take place. Under normally circumstances, DAC meets at least couple of times in a month.
“DAC is scheduled for June 15 and agenda for the meeting is being prepared. Several pending proposals alongwith key chapter on strategic partnership in the Defence Procurement Procedure -2016 likely to be discussed,” said a source. Besides, progress on the Rafale fighter jet deal is also expected to be examined as the negotiations of $ 8 billion deal to buy 36 warplanes from France is in its last leg. New DPP will pave the way for Make in India in majority of cases. In absence of clear-cut revised procurement procedures, no acquisitions, especially under the Make in India policy, are not taking place, according to an insider.
For the last two years of the NDA government, DAC has given approvals of defence projects worth Rs. 2 lakh crore. But still, about 314 cases of procurement of military equipment are pending and Manohar Parrikar has asked the three forces and the Ministry to prioritise the proposals and try to do away with projects which have lost relevance.
Sources claim that the three Services are now considering “only the relevant schemes” and junk the rest after the review of its pending proposals.
Despite the recent effort of the Modi government to prioritise defence equipment manufacturing in India, under the “Make in India” programme, India continues to be the biggest importer of military hardware in the world, according to a recently released report of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).