New Delhi: A Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report tabled in Parliament Wednesday pointed out irregularities in the purchase of aero engines for Unmanned Aero Vehicles (UAVs) by the Indian Air Force from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).
The report states that the IAI gained undue benefits of Rs 3.16 crore from the contract.
It says that the IAF concluded a contract in March 2010 with IAI for five 914 F (certified) UAV Rotax engines for Rs 87.45 lakh per engine even as Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), a DRDO laboratory, had procured the same variant of the engine at Rs 24.30 lakh per engine in April 2012.
The average price of the engine in the international market is between Rs 21-25 lakh, the report says.
“As a result, the vendor gained an undue benefit of Rs 3.16 crore as it supplied the five contracted UAV engines at more than three times the market price or the price offered to the DRDO unit,” reads the report.
The auditor also accused the vendor for mislabelling and supplying uncertified engines to the IAF which reportedly led to several accidents, including loss of one UAV in a crash.
Speaking on the report, a senior Indian Air Force officer said that while acceptance of “mislabelled” engines will be looked into, price negotiations are not in the domain of the IAF.
“Price negotiations are conducted by the ministry,” the officer said.
‘Mi-17 chopper fleet could not be upgraded even after 18 years’
The CAG report also noted that the upgradation of Medium Lift Mi-17 Helicopters, proposed in 2002 to overcome their “operational limitation”, could not be achieved even after 18 years.
“As a result, these helicopters were flying with limited capability, thus compromising operational preparedness during these years,” it said.
The CAG further said that due to poor planning by the Ministry of Defence and indecision at various stages of procurement, it took 15 years to enter into the upgradation contract of 90 Mi-17 helicopters with an Israeli company — in January 2017.
The audit also states that while the contracted delivery of these upgraded helicopters had to begin July 2018 and was to be completed by 2024, 56 of these helicopters, even after upgradation, would be left with less than two years of life and would be phased out by 2024.
Administrative and financial irregularities
The CAG also noted administrative and financial irregularities at the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and HAL.
It said the ADA increased the sanctioned strength for the posts of flight test pilots and flight test engineers by four posts without mandatory approval of the General Body and Ministry of Defence.
“This resulted in irregular payment of additional allowances attached with these posts amounting to Rs 4.79 crore for the period November 2008 to March 2018,” it said.
Allowances to IAF personnel
The report also states that the IAF had irregularly authorised certain allowances to IAF personnel such as “Modified Field Area Allowance”, “Counter Insurgency Allowance” and paid ‘Acting Rank’ of Group Captain in violation of norms.
“Audit noted that during 2014-19, the grant of these allowances and acting rank had a financial burden of Rs 20.02 crore. This amount is due for recovery from the concerned IAF personnel.”
It also said that the HAL had incorrectly fixed the new pay scales for all executives and non-unionised supervisors w.e.f. 1 July 2017. As a result, the report said, the HAL had incurred excess payment of pay amounting to Rs34.58crore to its employees for the period from July 2017 to June 2018.