Naval Chief not in favour of paying more money for Gorshkov

December 3rd, 2007 - 9:40 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, Dec 3 (ANI): Chief of the Indian Navy and the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee, Admiral Sureesh Mehta on Monday said that India should not pay more money than initially agreed for the acquisition of the Russian aircraft carrier Gorshkov.
Speaking to reporters a day ahead of the Navy Week celebrations, Admiral Mehta said, “We should not pay anything more than what we have committed in the original contract (for the Gorshkov),” adding, “‘When we signed the deal, it was fixed-price contract, taking into account all eventualities of retrofitting.”
India had initially signed the 58 billion rupees (1.5 billion dollars) deal in January 2004, but the cost is expected to rise after India accepted the Russian demand of increasing Rupee-Rouble escalation rate from 2.8 percent as earlier agreed to 5 per cent.
The 44,570-tonne aircraft carrier was scheduled to be delivered by August 2008, but delays in its delivery have raised severe concerns here, and last week Defence Minister A K Antony said in the Parliament that the “overall progress of repair and re-equipping of the ship is slow.”
Admiral Mehta today said that said the Indian Navy now owns the aircraft carrier, which has been re-christened as INS Vikramaditya, since New Delhi has already paid more than 400 million dollars for it.
He said that the delay is basically due to the Russian Government diverting the trained manpower engaged in the repair work of the aircraft carrier to other shipyards where they are constructing their new ships and submarines. ”It was Gorshkov project which helped Russian shipyards provide jobs when their economy was down. With our money, there has been lot of prosperity in the (Russian) region,” he said, adding, “But now, sudden oil boom has brought about a lot of prosperity, enabling the Russians to launch new warships and submarines, diverting the workforce.”
Last week, Antony told the Lok Sabha that the Russian side has submitted a revised Master Schedule indicating a delay in the project and they have attributed the delays to “growth of work”.
Admiral Mehta said that the retrofitting process would take at least two years, and added, “We have to see where our relations are going to with Moscow.” (ANI)

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