New Delhi: Amid allegations of bribery attempt in the 197 chopper deal, India has asked the two vendors in the race to extend the validity of their commercial bids till the end of this year, making it clear that the procurement is in for further delay.
The validity of the commercial bids of the two firms -- European Eurocopter and Russian Kamov -- is expiring by the end of this month.
The Director General (Acquisition) in the Defence Ministry has asked the Eurocopter and Kamov to extend the validity of their bids up to December, Defence sources said here.
The development makes it clear that the procurement of the light helicopters for the Army and Air Force, which has already been in pipeline for over three years, is in for further delay.
The move comes against the backdrop of the Army asking the Defence Ministry to conduct a probe into allegations that a Brigadier, who was in-charge of the trial team for 197 light choppers, demanded a Rs 25 crore bribe from AgustaWestland to swing the deal in its favour.
AgustaWestland, an Anglo-Italian company, was one of the contenders in the deal for 197 helicopters but lost out in the race during trials.
The allegations against the Brigadier surfaced during investigations into the 12 VVIP chopper deal with AgustaWestland, which is shrouded in a controversy over charges of kickbacks to the tune of Rs 360 crore.
"The Army Headquarters has asked us to investigate the matter before taking any decision on the future of the deal, in which only two firms European Eurocopter and Russian Kamov are left in the race as AgustaWestland was eliminated before trials itself," a Defence Ministry source had said.