Army scales down truck requirement to less than 100

Over the last two years, the Indian Army has scaled down its purchase requirement of all-weather vehicles from 600 to less than 100.

“The final Army order is about less than hundred vehicles and not in terms of hundreds of vehicles,” reliable sources told Deccan Herald. With controversies surrounding procurement of Tatra trucks from Bangalore-based Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML), the fate of this purchase order hangs in the balance.

The file on the purchase of Tatra trucks from BEML has not reached either the Department of Defence or the Department of Defence production since the first quarter of 2010.

Almost after an year, the Defence ministry launched a competitive bidding process to procure 1,600 heavy duty trucks with similar specifications as that of the Tatra trucks, first via imports and subsequently through licensed productions.

Apart from BEML, which have been producing these dumpers since 1986 under licensed production, two other companies were in the fray after the bid opened. One of them is Ural India, an Indo-Russian joint venture with headquarters in Kolkata.

The vehicles manufactured by all the three companies were put under trial last year. The lowest bidder has not been identified so far.

Inviting tenders from procurement of Tatra trucks signals an end to the monopoly of BEML that was allegedly supplying the trucks at a price much higher than what was quoted by other firms. “The price offered by other firms are substantially lower,” sources said.

Though there is no official confirmation, the price for BEML-made Tatra vehicle ranges between Rs 70 lakh and Rs 1.1 crore, depending on the year of purchase.

BEML chairman cum managing director V R S Natarajan on Friday said: “Superior price for Tatra is justified as there are no other alternate all-weather, all-terrain vehicle like Tatra.” He further claimed that BEML has never received any complaint from the Army on the trucks.

India signed an agreement with Czechoslovakia-based company Omni Pol in 1986 for production of Tatra trucks at BEML. After the agreement expired in 1996, a second pact was inked with UK-based Tatra-Sipox for producing similar vehicles at BEML.

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