Monday, May 22, 2017

Why Gorshkov’s final cost increased: CIC asks Govt

The Hitavada: New Delhi: Monday, May 22, 2017.
CIC directs the Defence Ministry to disclose reasons why the country chose a refurbished warship in place of purchasing a new one. It also directs Indian Navy to disclose ‘net final cost’ and dates of payments made
The deal for purchasing the ship was signed in 2004 at $ 974 million which was increased to final price of $ 2.35 billion in 2010
THE Central Information Commission has asked the Indian Navy to disclose the reasons for India agreeing to cost escalation by Russia for purchase of refurbished aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov. The deal for purchasing the now 30-year-old warship rechristened INS Vikramaditya was signed in 2004 by the then NDA government for USD 974 million which was increased to final price of USD 2.35 billion in 2010.
The commission has also directed the the Navy to disclose the ‘net final cost’ incurred on the modifications, renovation and remodelling done on the ship, besides dates of payments made by India. The Navy had earlier told the Commission that the information was to be provided by the Defence Ministry, which claimed the relevant files were with the naval headquarters and that they have been asked to disclose the details.
Information Commissioner Amitava Bhattacharyya directed the Navy to disclose the file notings, correspondence, and documents related to the acceptance of cost revisions sought by the Russians.
Bhattacharyya noted that the Navy was trying to put the onus of disclosure on the Defence Ministry whereas the ministry made it clear that the reply was to be furnished by the force.
The Commission has ordered the disclosure to be made as it found “larger public interest” was involved. The Defence Ministry and the Navy had withheld the information on the grounds of national security. Bhattacharyya also directed the Navy to disclose reasons why India chose to opt for a refurbished warship instead of buying a new one.
The RTI application was filed by activist Subhash Agrawal who had demanded a range of information on the acquisition of the 44,500-tonne aircraft carrier.
The ship was originally commissioned by the erstwhile USSR on December 20, 1987 and was decommissioned in 1996.
After being inducted into the Navy as Vikramaditya, the ship is now a floating 284-metre airfield.
The ship can carry over 30 aircraft and house 1600 personnel.