With a controversy plaguing its Tatra trucks purchases, India's Defence Minister AK Antony has said that the military trucks were bought to meet the army's special needs, but not a single truck was bought since September 2008 when the General Staff Qualitative Requirements (GSQRs) were changed.
Antony informed parliament that India had bought 6,500 vehicles from Tatra from 1986 to 2012. Out of that, owing to special circumstances nearly 1,950 vehicles were bought from Tatra from 1999-2002. This was due to operational needs, because of Operation Parakram," he said.
India had begun procuring the Tatra trucks in 1973 and after the break of Czechoslovakia into Czech Republic and Slovakia, India renewed the contract with Tatra in 1997. In 2003, another contract was signed with the company.
"The government procures as per requirement of army and government does not impose anything. Army headquarters wanted to change the GSQRs, conveying to the government that the present GSQRs were prepared in 1986," he said.
"So on Sep 26, 2008, at the Defence Acquisition Committee (DAC) meeting that was attended by all three chiefs, it was decided to change the GSQRs. We have not procured a single truck from Tatra since the new GSQRs," he said.
Antony said trials are going on in which six Indian and 14 foreign companies are participating.
He said the government is spending the whole budget on Defence procurements. "Last year, we spent 99 per cent on the budget."
To another question on Indian Army chief Gen. VK Singh writing to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on shortage of arms and ammunition, Antony said: "The army, navy and the air force chiefs writing to the Defence minister is nothing new. They used to write to the PMs of the day occasionally when they see it as something that is urgently needed."
He said, "this time too, the present chief wrote to the PM in March. After that, I had two detailed meetings with the army chief and senior officers and even ministry officials. Thorough discussion followed. We realised the reasons for deficiency...some defects in GSQRs...in preparation, blacklisting of IMI (Israeli Military Industries), etc.".
After those meetings, Antony said, the Defence ministry decided to speed up procurements and is now finding solutions to critical shortages. "But, by and large, armed forces are sufficient and ready to meet any challenges," he added.