Defence minister Manohar Parrikar on Monday flagged concerns over naval mishaps, five days after a torpedo recovery vessel (TRV) sank off Visakhapatnam, an accident in which one sailor was killed and four personnel are still missing.
After taking over as defence minister, Parrikar said he was “equally worried” about the 31-year-old vessel’s sinking and the recent accidents involving submarines.
Navy chief Admiral Robin Dhowan said the chances of recovering the personnel appeared to be grim, but the search would continue till November 13.
Dhowan said, “We would like to induct new platforms but at times delays takes place and to overcome those delays we have to extend service life. That is the situation as far as TRV is concerned.”
Parrikar said he would ensure transparency and speed in the arms procurement process, at a time the country is striving to modernise its military and several contracts have been scrapped amid bribery allegations.
“That’s my specialty (working in a transparent and fast manner),” he said. He said his predecessor Arun Jaitley had done great work “despite constraints” and he was confident of taking it forward.
The military’s long wish list covers a range of platforms including modern fighter jets, much-needed artillery guns, mid-air refuellers, minesweepers and air defence equipment with a combined cost of more than Rs 2,00,000 crore.
Long-pending projects worth Rs 1,20,000 crore to buy next-generation submarines, anti-tank guided missiles, attack helicopters, heavy-lift choppers and tanks have gathered momentum after the NDA government was voted to power in May.
In Lucknow, Parrikar told reporters that he wouldn’t allow the country to be defenceless against the enemy.
Asked to comment on PM Narendra Modi’s “Make-in-India” campaign to boost indigenisation, he told reporters in his South Block office here, “I feel that as much as possible we should manufacture in India. Any country with a good manufacturing base can come up economically.”
He said he had good administrative experience as a former CM but the type of requirement at the national level might be of a different class.
Parrikar, who met the defence secretary and the three service chiefs, thanked Modi for reposing confidence in him and entrusting him with a “very important and sensitive ministry.”