In a bid to wipe out corruption in arms deals, defence minister AK Antony Thursday asked the chiefs of defence public sector undertakings (DPSUs) to place highest premium of transparency.
Antony’s meeting with the eight DPSU chiefs came at a time when Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML), a public sector undertaking, has come under the CBI scanner for irregularities in the Tatra truck deal.
The minister had on March 26 ordered a CBI investigation into army chief General VK Singh’s stunning allegations that he was offered a Rs 14-crore bribe by a retired lieutenant general to buy 600 “substandard” Tatra trucks for the army in 2010.
BEML supplies to those trucks to the army on behalf of Tatra and Vectra Limited.
In a virtual warning to the DPSU chiefs, Antony is learnt to have told them that no compromise in transparency would be tolerated.
BEML chief VRS Natarajan was also present at the meeting. The CBI is looking into Natarajan’s role in the Tatra contract and he is likely to be questioned soon.
The BEML chief has, however, maintained that he had not received a single compliant from the force about the performance of Tatra trucks.
BEML has supplied 7,000 trucks to the army since 1987 through a tie-up with Czech company Omnipol Foreign Trade Corporation till 1997 and later in partnership with UK-based Tatra Sipox.
Antony asked the DPSU chiefs to bring about more transparency in their dealings with clients and other stakeholders.
He also asked them to stick to timelines and ensure there were no slip-ups when it came to product support and after-sales services.
“The DPSUs have been asked to set benchmarks of standard and quality for the private sector companies in the defence production sector,” defence ministry sources said.