‘Corruption in defence forces won’t be tolerated’
PTI KOCHI IN the backdrop of the recent storm over alleged corruption in defence procurements, Defence Minister A K Antony on Wednesday said the country’s interests were paramount and there will be “no cover up and no vendetta”.
“India’s interests are our only concern. We are not against any company or country.
But India’s interests are paramount”, he told reporters on the sidelines of a function at the Indian Coast Guard in Kochi. Replying to questions in the light of Indian Army Chief General V K Singh’s recent claim about alleged attempts to bribe him to favour a sub-standard contract, he said “Corruption will not be tolerated.
Even if there is suspicion, a probe will be ordered”.
“No cover up, no vendetta is our policy,” he said, adding if there is an iota of doubt, it would be looked into.
Antony said efforts were on to make defence procurement more transparent. “When people do not get contracts, there will be criticism and allegations.
Some companies do try to influence officials and if it is proved action will be taken”.
He said six companies from Israel, Russia, Germany and Singapore and two from India had recently been blacklisted.
The Defence acquisition council meeting last week had sanctioned Annual projects, five-year projects and Long Term Plan from 2012-27, he said. On reported differences between the Army and the Defence Ministry, he said, “Both are functioning from the same building. There is no communication gap, no confrontation.
I function as a joint family. I am very comfortable. I respect the armed forces, their commitment, their dedication.
I am proud of it”. Antony said there was so much demand for joint exercises with the Indian defence forces that “everyone wants to do (it).” he said .
Antony said the vulnerability of Indian waters and coastline from “inimical forces” and non state actors not only poses new challenges to security but also has an impact on economic growth of the country.
“Peace and security has a direct relation with trade and economy. Post 26/11, government has paid particular attention to enhance coastal security and strengthen the capacity of the Coast Guard,” he said.
The minister said ship construction and aircraft production are time consuming processes, involving a long lead time. Coast Guard has 68 ships and boats and 52 aircraft. “We are trying our best to ensure these capacities are nearly doubled in a few years. The Coast Guard would also have five regional headquarters, 14 district headquarters, 43 stations and 16 air units ,”he said.