Defexpo '12: Flying squad to check graft

The defence ministry has formed a flying squad to check corruption and malpractices at DefExpo 2012 here from March 29, which will be attended by world's top armament majors looking for a share in India’s lucrative defence purchases pie.

The flying squad would seek to plug all possible avenues for malpractice and take extra precautions to ensure that money did not change hands at the seventh edition of the country's largest exposition on land and naval systems, Shekhar Agarwal, Secretary, defence production said on Monday.

The ministry decided on stringent anti-corruption measures following the Aero India 2011 experience of an Indian Air Force officer being caught accepting bribe from a foreign aircraft maker in return for granting its aircraft early take off after the show closed.

“The IAF launched proceedings against the officer, which is in the final stage,” Agarwal said. The officer, found guilty by a court of inquiry, is facing court martial proceedings.

Agarwal said there were three areas in DefExpo where malpractices could occur. A foreign company can book space in the name of an Indian firm as the booking advance would be far less; space could be sublet and lastly firms occupying more space than what they paid for.

As many as 53 countries are attending the exposition featuring as many as 15 country pavilions. A large delegation from China will also be present.

Asked whether any of the six blacklisted companies would be attending the show, he said two of them – Israeli Military Industries and Rheinmetall Air Defence in Zurich – would put up their wares for display as they booked the space much before the blacklisting and cancellation at the last minute might lead to legal problems.

“But we are issuing an advisory to all wings of the defence ministry and three services  to avoid these two firms,” Agarwal said.

According to a recent analysis by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, India is the world’s largest buyer of arms accounting for 10 per cent of global arms import, overtaking Pakistan and China.

In the last two financial years, India spent upwards of Rs 40,000 crore in modernising the three services. Up to February 2012, the ministry spent Rs 42,462.53 crore on modernisation.

India's allocation for big ticket purchases went up by almost Rs 13,500 crore in the latest union budget, making it possibly the world's most attractive defence market. The outlay for capital expenditure has increased to Rs 79,579 crore.

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