Following the scams and irregularities revolving around the UK-based firm Tatra Sipox, the Indian Defence Mnistry has rejected the proposal by state-run Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) to develop a wheeled artillery gun in collaboration with a Slovakian firm called DMD Group. Defence Ministry has stated that the suspension is due to the involvement of Tatra Sipox whose owners are currently being investigated for a Defence scam.
The Slovakian DMD had signed a MoU with BEML to create an Indian version of the wheeled gun ‘Zuzana’. However, the UK-based Tatra Sipox and its owner Ravi Rishi were also connected in the proposal to create the ‘Zuzana’ guns in India. The Indian Defence Ministry was appalled to find the controversial firm Tatra Sipox as a business associate of the DMD Group in the wheeled gun deal.
As per the MoU, it stated that the Slovakian firm had agreed to consider about 35 per cent indigenization in the ‘Zuzana’ wheeled gun including the chassis to be provided by Tanax/Tatra Sipox, UK. The firm had also agreed to consider transfer of technology to BEML with a minimum 30% indigenization, including the vehicle portion with super structure to be supplied by BEML with the support of partner Tatra Sipox.
The deal for the Slovakian 155 mm ‘Zuzana’ gun was already signed and field trials had also been carried out. Both BEML and the Indian Army were eagerly awaiting the final nod from the Defence Ministry for the supply orders. However, the Defence Ministry has now instructed BEML to steer clear from any deal involving Tatra Sipox. Tatra Sipox is being investigated for the alleged irregularities in the controversial Tatra truck supply deal.
After the suspension of the ‘Zuzana’ wheeled gun deal, Defence Ministry is closely scrutinizing all the deals involving BEML and Tatra-Sipox. The UK-based Tatar-Sipox is currently being probed for alleged Defence scams in the Tatra truck deal. BEML has notified the Slovakian firm about the Defence Ministry’s order to suspend the Zuzana gun deal. However, the ministry has given its go-ahead for user trial to be held for tracked gun ‘Arzu’ for which BEML had signed a MoU with the same Slovakian firm.
Meanwhile, the CBI is all set to conduct another round of inspection of BEML facilities in connection with the alleged irregularities in the controversial Tatra truck supply deal. The earlier inspection had revealed that the plant where the fitting of the trucks take place was in a very primitive stage and no substantial indigenization work was undertaken by BEML. CBI stated that despite the clause of indigenization and upgrade of technology in the original agreement signed with Tatra, the process was not up to the mark. The trucks assembled by the BEML and supplied to army have not performed well in higher altitude. Despite the Army highlighting this error, the PSU continued supplying older technology vehicles.