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CAG questions anti-submarine aircraft deal with Boeing under UPA

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CAG questions anti-submarine aircraft deal with Boeing under UPA

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), in its report tabled in the Parliament on Tuesday, August 7, pulled up the then UPA government for a USD 2.1 billion deal in 2009 for procurement of Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance Anti-Submarine Warfare (LRMRASW) aircraft from Boeing of the US.

The CAG said a bid from a Spanish company was inflated to make a rival US-made anti-submarine aircraft look cheaper, and favour the American defence major over rival bidder EADS CASA of Spain for procuring a fleet of P-8I maritime reconnaissance aircraft.

In its report tabled in Parliament, the CAG said the defence ministry enhanced the financial bid of Spanish aerospace firm to provide for a 20 year “product support” cost on assumption that Boeing’s offer had similar provision.

Boeing, at a later stage, offered the aircraft maintenance support under a separate negotiable contract, the auditor said, while terming as incorrect the conclusion that the American company was the lowest bidder (L1).

It said enhancing the financial bid of the Spanish company by including its product support cost resulted in pushing it to L-2 status (second lowest bidder).

As per the report, the contract was concluded with Boeing in January 2009 at USD 2.1 billion (about Rs 14,500 crore at the current exchange rate).

“The Ministry while concluding the contract for the acquisition of LRMRASW aircraft enhanced the financial bid of EADS CASA, Spain, to cater for 20 years’ product support cost, while ignoring this element in respect of Boeing. At a later date, Boeing, USA, offered product support under a separate contract and consequently the deduced ranking of Boeing as L-1 turned out to be incorrect,” the CAG said in the report.

Further, the critical role equipment offered by Boeing did not fully meet the needs of the Indian Navy, the report said. “Owing to capability limitations of radars installed on board, the aircraft is not able to achieve the envisaged coverage area requirements.”

The national auditor said the defence ministry had set the offset obligation by Boeing at USD 641 million (Rs 3,127.43 crore).

For Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), the Naval Staff Quality Requirements (NSQR) had envisaged procurement of torpedoes and certain bombs as the ammunition. However, the contract for procurement of the bombs had not yet been concluded, the CAG observed.

The reasons for non-procurement of the bombs were yet to be intimated by the Navy as on September 2017.

Offset obligations to the tune of $640.26 million to be fulfilled by Boeing within seven years [August 2016] had not been fulfilled till date. “Boeing had claimed offset credits on mere placement of purchase orders, defeating the very purpose of offset obligations,” CAG said.

Under India’s offset policy, foreign defence entities are mandated to spend at least 30 per cent of the total contract value in India through procurement of components or setting up of research and development facilities.

The 2009 deal was for eight P-8I (Poseidon Eight India) aircraft. The first aircraft came to India in May 2013 and all the eight aircraft have been fully integrated into Indian Navy’s operations.

The P-8I aircraft is a variant of the P-8A Poseidon aircraft that Boeing developed as a replacement for the US Navy’s ageing P-3 fleet.

Indian Navy became the first international customer for the aircraft which is equipped for long range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and surveillance. The CAG also criticised delays in procuring bombs as part of the weapons for the aircraft.

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Madhya Pradesh elections: Congress to release first list of candidates after October 5

According to the source, the party has received more than 3,500 inquiries from potential candidates who wish to run for office on the Congress ticket in the Assembly elections.

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Madhya Pradesh elections

As the Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections draw nearer, sources stated on Friday that the Congress is expected to reveal its first list of candidates after October 5 as part of its strategy. A Congress source told IANS that the party will announce the names of the candidates at the ideal moment and that the campaigning for the Assembly elections is already underway.

The source stated that the party would issue its initial list of candidates after October 5, when it is anticipated that the Election Commission will have released its polling schedule.

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the party’s general secretary, will be in the state on October 5 to speak at a large public gathering, the source added, and her input will be sought before the release of the final list.

To narrow down the field of candidates for the elections, the party organised two sessions of the Screening Committee in the national capital.

According to the source, the party has received more than 3,500 inquiries from potential candidates who wish to run for office on the Congress ticket in the Assembly elections.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, will speak at a public meeting on Saturday in the Kala Pipla Assembly seat.

Two lists of candidates from the BJP have already been made public for the upcoming elections. Along with four other current MPs, the ruling party has included three Union Ministers in its second list. On Monday, a few hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke at a public gathering in Bhopal, the second list of 39 candidates was made public.

The list also included Kailash Vijayvargiya, the national general secretary of the BJP.

The list includes the names of three Union Ministers: Prahlad Singh Patel, Minister of State for Food Processing Industries and Jal Shakti from Narsinghpur; Narendra Singh Tomar, Minister of Agriculture and Chairman of the Party’s State Election Management Committee from Dimni-Morena; and Fagan Singh Kulaste, Minister of State for Rural Development and Steel from Niwas.

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President Droupadi Murmu gives assent to Women’s Reservation Bill

The new law provides 33% reservation of seats for women in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies.

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President Droupadi Murmu gives assent to Women’s Reservation Bill

The Women’s Reservation Bill became law in India after President Droupadi Murmu gave her assent, days after the historic vote in the Parliament. The new law provides 33% reservation of seats in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies for women. However, the law will be imposed after the new census and delimitation. 

The Women’s Reservation Bill which is officially known as Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam was passed in both the houses during the special session of the Parliament. The historic bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on September 20, with 454 MPs voting in its favour and 2 voting against it. In the Rajya Sabha, the bill was passed unanimously on September 21 with 214 MPs voting in favour of the bill.  

Issuing a gazette notification, the Government of India stated that the Bill has become an Act after the approval granted by the President. The notification read that the act will come into force on such date as the central government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint. 

While supporting the historic bill in the Parliament, the Opposition condemned the government for not bringing the quota for women into immediate effect. Union Home Minister Amit Shah told the Parliament during the bill’s discussion that it could only come into effect after 2029 due to the pending census and delimitation.

A day after the bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha, Prime Minister Narendra Modi remarked that with the passage of the Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam in Parliament, the nation usher in an era of stronger representation and empowerment for the women of India. He added that this is not merely legislation but a tribute to the countless women who have made the nation. He exclaimed that India has been enriched by their resilience and contributions. 

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CM Arvind Kejriwal announces Delhi winter action plan to curb pollution

Arvind Kejriwal led Delhi government will also deploy 530 water sprinklers in an attempt to prevent dust pollution

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CM Arvind Kejriwal announces Delhi winter action plan to curb pollution

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday affirmed that pollution levels dropped in the national capital owing to various government initiatives as he announced the winter action plan to curb pollution.

Addressing a press conference, CM Arvind Kejriwal stated that the number of days witnessing severe pollution levels declined in the past eight years due to several initiatives of the government, like the introduction of electric buses and the EV Policy, among others.

Announcing the winter action plan in Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal stated that the Pusa bio decomposer that prevents stubble burning will be sprayed on 5,000 hectares of farmland this year against 4,400 hectares the previous year. As far as reports are concerned, the Pusa bio decomposer, developed by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) is a microbial solution that can turn paddy straw into manure in 15-20 days.

In addition, Arvind Kejriwal led Delhi government will also deploy 530 water sprinklers in an attempt to prevent dust pollution and 385 teams, who will be entrusted to check vehicles pollution certificates and prevent the plying of overage cars.

According to reports, in 2018, the Supreme Court banned diesel and petrol vehicles older than 10 and 15 years, respectively, in Delhi. The top court had added that the vehicles plying in violation of the order would be impounded. Further, a 2014 order of the National Green Tribunal bars vehicles older than 15 years to be parked in public places.

Arvind Kejriwal also reiterated that burning garbage in the open is banned in Delhi. He mentioned that 611 teams will supervise the implementation of the same. He also urged people to download the Green Delhi mobile application on their devices and report any pollution-causing activity to the government.

Speaking about stubble burning, the Delhi Chief Minister noted that in Punjab, they formed a government last year and the data from the last year showed that the steps taken in 6-7 months led to a 30% reduction in stubble burning.

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