Antony regrets that corruption exists in defence procurements

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Expressing regret that corruption exists in defence procurements despite several stringent measures in place, Defence Minister A K Antony Wednesday said it is essential to reduce dependence on imports and there is a need to further tighten the norms that govern defence purchases.

Saying that it is "regrettable" that lessons have not been learnt by defence firms despite his ministry blacklisting several firms on corruption charges, Antony said the armed forces should look within the nation for products when they draw up operational requirements. "Imports should be the last resort," he said.

He expressed helplessness in addressing corrupt practices despite several penal measures that are part of the defence procurement process. "The need to maintain transparency, honesty and sincerity at every stage cannot be compromised. In spite of taking so many precautions, again here and there things are happening. I don't know what to do," Antony said.

The minister added that efforts are now on to include additional measures in the procurement process. "Even after all this, there are people who are not learning lessons. So, we have to further tighten our mechanisms. Whenever allegations are made, we have to go the root and find the truth and punish the guilty. We cannot waste even a single penny of Indian taxpayers for greedy players," Antony said.

He also said that India is "back to square one", referring to the VVIP chopper deal that is set to be cancelled in the wake of corruption allegations. Antony pitched for indigenous products. "There is a tendency that when you go abroad, you see a number of most modern equipment and immediately we try to take it from the import route. You should have a second look about our priority," he said.

Just hours later, DRDO chief V K Saraswat said his organisation has the capability to produce VVIP helicopters.

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