Just when the chorus of protest and charges of corruption over the Rs 10,000 missile deal with Israel were dying out, the government has entered into another defence agreement, worth Rs 1,200 crore, with the same country.
Overlooking the Left’s protests and allegations of corruption in the purchase of medium-range surface-to-air missiles (MRSAM), the government, in the last week of March, signed an agreement with Israel Military Industries (IMI) to build five artillery munitions factories over three years in Bihar’s Nalanda district. The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) had given its go-ahead to the deal in January.
The Left had earlier questioned the lack of transparency in the MRSAM deal involving Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). Signed in February, the contract included a controversial payment of Rs 600 crore towards business charges. The CCS had cleared the joint development of the MRSAM by IAI and the Defence Research and Development Organisation in July 2007.
However, the deal was put on hold in the wake of the CBI’s investigation into the purchase of Barak missiles from IAI and Rafael. Talking about the deal last week, Defence Minister AK Antony said the government would scrap the MRSAM contract, if the allegations of kickbacks were proved.