No new Tatra truck purchased after 2008: Antony

New Delhi, May 7: Defence Minister A.K. Antony Monday said Tatra trucks were purchased to meet the special needs of the Indian Army but no vehicle had been procured from the company after 2008.

The defence minister told the Lok Sabha during Question Hour: ‘Indian government bought 6,500 vehicle from Tatra from 1986 onwards to 2012. Out of that, owing to special circumstances nearly 1,950 vehicles were bought from Tatra from 1999-2002. This was due to operational needs, because of Operation Parakram.’

He said the government had decided in 1997 to sign a contract with Tatra. In 2003, another contract was signed with the company.

‘The government procures as per requirement of army and government does not impose anything. Army headquarter wanted to change the GSQR (General Staff Quality Requirements) and conveyed to government that the present GSQR was prepared in 1986,’ he said.

‘So on Sep 26, 2008, at the Defence Acquisition Committee (DAC) meeting that was attended by all three chiefs, it was decided to change the GSQRs. We have not procured a single truck from Tatra since the new GSQR,’ he said.

He said the government is spending the whole budget on defence procurements. ‘Last year, we spent 99 per cent on the budget.’

Replying to a question of Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj on Army Chief Gen. V.K. Singh writing to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on shortage of arms and ammunition, Antony said: ‘The Army, Navy and the Air Force chiefs writing to the defence minister is nothing new. They used to write to the PMs of the day occasionally when they see it as something that is urgently needed.’

‘This time too, the present chief wrote to the PM in March. After that, I had two detailed meetings with the army chief and senior officers and even ministry officials. Thorough discussion followed. We realised the reasons for deficiency, some defects in GSQR, in preparation, blacklisting of IMI (Israeli Military Industries) etc,’ he said.

‘After that, we decided to speed it up. We are now finding solutions to critical shortages. But by and large, armed forces are sufficient and ready to meet any challenges,’ he added.

IANS