75 (I) Submarine Contract May Get Caught in Political Trap
India’s politically riddled defence acquisition process is well established for imposing delays in procurement with numerous allegations and counters that are defended in the court of law some even abroad.
The main opposition Congress Party has alleged that the government is favouring the Adani group in the contract for construction of six conventional submarines under Project 75-I.
“The offer of the joint venture of Adani Defence and Hindustan Shipyard Limited was rejected. Adani has no experience in manufacturing ships and submarines, and its only claim in favour of its bid was that it had experience in setting up and running power plants,”AICC spokespersons RandeepSurjewala and JaiveerShergill said.
The controversy has arisen mainly due to the late entry of the Adani Group which has formed a special purpose vehicle in tune with the government owned Hindustan Shipyard.
The Indian Navy panel which selects the bidders based on eligibility has not approved Adani proposal as per the Congress Spokespersons as per a report in the Hindustan Times.
Mazagaon Dock Shipbuilders Limited and Larsen and Toubro have made the cut.
Adani Group’s decision to join the race also comes as a surprise since it does not currently own an active shipyard, something all the above-mentioned rivals have in common.
Gujarat-based group could float a special purpose vehicle (SPV) with state-owned Hindustan Shipyard (HSL), which has experience in submarine repairs and overhauls.
Clearly the government owned MDL which has built six submarines under the 75 programme the French Scorpene has and advantage. More over after the Scorpene project is completed the infrastructure created is likely to be idle.
The government is hoping for a greater competition but this may only delay the crucial submarine project with the Indian Navy still short of the 24 conventional subs that are necessary for surveillance of the Indian Ocean.
Rajat Pandit of the Times of India also reported deficiency of funds which has led the Navy to reduce the warships plan for induction. The Navy has 48 warships under construction in India, including aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, four Scorpene submarines and the four destroyers, and two frigates from Russia as per Pandit. Reduction in numbers is likely to be with reference to the mine clearing and amphibious craft.