Deals must be clean: Antony

 Under attack from the Opposition for laggard defence procurement impacting India’s military preparedness, Defence Minister A K Antony on Thursday countered the charges asserting the government could not go whole hog on military deals worth thousands of crores simply turning a blind eye on allegations of large-scale corruption.

“We are unable to speed up on procurement because there are corruption charges (in defence deals). We cannot simply throw the complaints into basket. The probing takes some time because of which we are a bit slow on modernisation. Don’t blame me on both counts,” Antony said insisting that the ministry should not be blamed for both laggard defence procurement and permitting corrupt practices in military business.

The defence ministry returned Rs 3,000 crore to the Finance Ministry in 2011-12. While the money allocated for the Indian Air Force and the Navy was more or less spent, official documents suggests adding 1.13 million strong Army’s modernisation budget was reduced in the 11th Five Year Plan.

In his explosive “top secret” letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Army Chief Gen V K Singh red flagged the systemic problems in defence procurement which leaves the 1.3 million strong Army with outdated air defence system, inadequate ammunition for tanks and lack of artillery guns.

“The policy is zero tolerance towards corruption. If we receive any complaint at any stage of the contract, we will not hesitate cancelling the deal if after investigation, we found merits in the complaint. If anything is found even after signing the contract, we will not hesitate to take action,” said the defence minister.

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