India pays USD 102 mn to speed up refit of Gorshkov

Last Updated: Tuesday, September 8, 2009 - 16:40

Moscow: India has paid another staggering
USD 102 million to Russia, to speed up refit work on the
aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, pending a final agreement
on a huge price hike of almost USD 2 billion demanded by
Moscow.

"The advance payment of USD 102 million has given a
fillip to repairs and refit works. The workforce would be
increased to 2500 for work in two shifts," spokesperson of the
Sevmash shipyard Anastasia Nikitinskaya said as Russian
officials committed that they would meet the 2012 delivery
deadline.

The increasing delay in the delivery of the warship
has been described by President Dmitry Medvedev as the `sole
irritant` in Indo-Russian relations.

The issue came up in the delegation level talks
between President Pratibha Devisingh Patil and her Soviet
counterpart on September 3, during her first state visit to
the country.

Director General of Severodvinsk-based Sevmash
shipyard Nikolai Kalistratov along with his Chief Engineer was
also present at the talks held at Kremlin.

Under the initial USD 1.5 billion contract signed in
New Delhi in January 2004, Russia was to deliver retrofitted
aircraft carrier in August 2008.

However, the Sevmash shipyard later demanded that USD
974 million allocated for the upgradation of the 44.5 thousand
ton vessel, given to the Indian Navy `free of cost`, was not
sufficient and demanded an additional sum of USD 2.2 billion.

According to Chairman of Russian Technologies State
Corporation, Sergei Chemezev, the talks are currently underway
for negotiating a new agreement, which may be signed in
mid-October.

An Indian delegation is expected in Moscow later this
month to finalise the accord, even as media reports have
suggested that New Delhi`s final offer was to pay an
additional amount of USD 1.2 billion.

Sources here say that although the cost escalation was
a `natural` process due to changed requirements of the Indian
Navy, a lot of money paid by India had `dried up` in the banks
for almost four years, with practically no work done on the
warship.

Upgradation of Gorshkov, to be inducted as INS
Vikramaditya, is expected to be completed in 2011, after which
it would undergo sea-trials for delivery in 2012.

Bureau Report



First Published: Tuesday, September 8, 2009 - 16:40

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