First challenge for Manohar Parrikar! To pass or scrap 'controversial' Korean Warships deal

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There is a long pending deal to purchase South Korean warships
New Delhi, Nov 12: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar might have promised to strengthen country's defence sector after assuming his new office but the first challenge BJP strongman faces is whether or not to scrap the controversial deal to purchase eight mine counter-measure vessels (mine-sweepers) from South Korea.

There is a long pending deal to purchase South Korean warships that are known for detecting and destroying deadly underwater mines laid by enemy forces to choke harbours and disrupt shipping traffic.

The ministry of the defence has found irregularities in the `6,000 crore deal from Kangnam Corporation based in South Korea to buy eight mine counter-measure vessels for Indian Navy.

Officials claim that the company had hired middlemen to clinch the deal in favour of the company. Hiring of middlemen is a crime in India.

Earlier, on May 29, the Defence Ministry had encashed a Rs 3 crore bank guarantee furnished by Kangnam Corporation, shortlisted to supply the mine-sweepers.

There is a long pending deal to purchase South Korean warships

Earlier in the month, the Attorney General suggested the defence ministry to go ahead and scrap Rs 6,000 crore deal. The MoD had reportedly sought AG Mukul Rohtagi's opinion over cancellation of the deal on charges of irregularities and hiring of middlemen, said a senior ministry official.

As per a report published in the Indian Express, a senior MoD official told, "The AG has recommended the cancellation of the deal. And on the basis of his opinion, the deal will be cancelled soon."

However, the Navy is strongly opposed to the move to "close the case and start afresh" for what it considers to be "a critical operational requirement".

India at present has seven old mine-sweepers to guard its east and west coasts when it needs at least 24 of these. Need for these mine-sweepers is increasing with every passing day as the activity of Chinese submarines has greatly increased.

As per a TOI report, in his first full day at South Block on Tuesday, Parrikar received a series of briefings on the operational readiness along the borders with Pakistan and China to the "huge capability gaps" being faced by the armed forces in fields ranging from howitzers to fighters.

Hence, Parrikar a tough decision already awaits the Defence Minister.

OneIndia News

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