New Delhi: A senior Indian Navy officer actively involved in the acquisition of the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov is being probed for his alleged "linkage" with some Russians that could have resulted in the cost escalation of the project, an officer said Monday.
"An inquiry has been initiated against Commodore Sukhjinder Singh. He was in charge of the aircraft carrier project in Russia and was stationed there for long. He was the seniormost officer looking after the project," the navy officer said.
"The inquiry was ordered a few weeks ago, after evidence emerged of his close linkage with some Russians," the officer added. Singh was deputed to Russia to supervise the re-fitting and other technical requirements of the carrier, which has been renamed INS Vikramaditya.
According to the officer, Singh`s role is being ascertained to know if his proximity to some Russians was in any way linked to the problems associated with the Gorshkov project, including the cost escalation and the delay in the ship`s delivery.
"There is also a morality-related issue," the officer said, refusing to elaborate.
On his return to Delhi, Singh was appointed to the crucial post of principal director (Aircraft Carrier Project) looking after the Gorshkov project from the Indian Navy headquarters.
He was also a member of the cost negotiation committee (CNC) set up last year to resolve the unprecedented Russian demand for an increase in the carrier`s refit cost.
India had last month cleared the $2.35 billion revised price for the carrier.
The warship, originally purchased for $1.5 billion, is currently undergoing a refit at Russia`s Sevmash shipyard. Of the total cost, $974 million was meant for the refit and the balance for a squadron of MiG-29K combat jets that will be deployed on the vessel.
Citing additional costs for the refit, Moscow had jacked up the price to $2.9 billion, while New Delhi wanted this to be scaled back to $2.1 billion. The revised price was decided on during Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin`s visit to New Delhi last month.