New Delhi: The CPI(M) and Samajwadi Party
on Monday raised concerns over the acquisition of "second hand"
aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov for the Indian Navy after a
"20 time" cost escalation and a major delay in its delivery
and demanded a clarification from the government on the issue.
"The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has
seriously questioned the government`s decision to purchase the
second hand aircraft carrier. The Defence Minister should make
a statement and clarify what is the reason and why it is being
purchased after its price has been escalated 20 times," CPI(M)
leader Basudeb Acharia said in Lok Sabha.
He was promptly supported by former Defence Minister and
SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav who said the government should
also clarify why Gorshkov was being acquired when its
remaining life span was only 20 years instead of a new one
which would have run for 40-50 years.
Acharia said the deal was signed in 2004 and the original
price was USD 875 million.
After "protracted negotiations" of over two years, "you
will be surprised to know that the price was escalated by
20 times ... to USD 1.2 billion and that too for a second hand
aircraft carrier which has completed half of its life," the
CPI(M) leader said during Zero Hour.
The issue was raised in the backdrop of a CAG report
which pointed out that the refitted Russian aircraft carrier
was coming after spending half its life span and was "60 per
cent more expensive than a new one".
"The acquisition cost has more than doubled to USD
1.82 billion in four years", taking into account the USD 1.2
billion figure demanded by Russia in 2007, the CAG had said.
India and Russia are in the last leg of negotiations on
the cost of repair and refit of Admiral Gorshkov and the final
price was likely to be between USD 2.2 billion and USD 2.9
India had signed the agreement in 2004 for the aircraft
carrier and sent it for refit to the Sevmash Shipyard in
Russia. That apart, India also bought 16 MiG-29Ks to operate
on the warship at a cost of USD 650 million.