Procurement of Tatra trucks on hold: Army Chief



New Delhi: Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh has said that procurement of Tatra trucks has been put on hold in view of the ongoing Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into allegations of corruption against the company.

"The point is that a decision (to buy or not to buy Tatra trucks) has to be taken based on CBI inquiry. It is on hold. A CBI inquiry is on in the case and we need to wait for that to get over before we take any decisions," he said on Wednesday.

Gen Singh was asked if the Army would go ahead with the procurement of Tatra trucks for putting its Pinaka and other heavy rockets and missiles.

Gen Bikram Singh said no decision can be taken till the CBI inquiry in the case doesn't get over. The CBI is investigating the Tatra truck deal after former Army chief Gen VK Singh alleged that he was offered a bribe of Rs 14 crore by a retired officer to clear the procurement of 600 more Tatra trucks for the Army.

Asked about the alleged delay by the Army in deploying troops during the Assam violence, Gen Singh said the force was given permission by the Defence Ministry to move in on August 24 and it did so that very evening.

He said the Army was supposed to take clearance before moving in aid to civil authorities in a situation with communal and ethnic overtones as "we would not like to get involved in such things without Government permission".

He said there was no change in the Standard Operating Procedures of the force in this regard.

Asked about his views on the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), he said the force has conveyed its opinion on the issue to the Government.

"It is for the Government to take a decision on it. We only give our assessment to the Government," the Army Chief said.

Gen Bikram Singh said there was a comprehensive mechanism in the state to assess the situation which included the Unified Headquarters under the state Chief Minister.

To a query on the infiltration by terrorists through Nepal and cross-border Samjhauta Express train using fake passports, the Army Chief said, "On terrorists coming from Nepal, our law and order machinery and intelligence agencies are keeping a watch on them and they are being checked."

"This matter has reached the Ministry of Home Affairs and this has been communicated to the Government. Measures are being executed to prevent such activities," they said.

Listing out his key-result areas, the Army Chief said it included combat readiness to fulfil constitutional obligations, addressing modernisation issues, effective human resource management to ensure high morale and motivation.

Gen Singh said strengthening the secular fabric of the force along with maintaining its apolitical structure was also high on his priorities.

PTI