Post Mumbai, fast track military purchases justified: government

February 25th, 2009 - 4:41 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 25 (IANS) The government Wednesday defended the fast track military hardware purchases in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks, saying the acquisitions could not be left to normal procedures that would take three-four years to fructify.
“After Mumbai, we have to strengthen the Coast Guard and the navy,” Defence Minister A.K. Antony said during question hour in the Rajya Sabha.

“We have a 7,500 km coastline. The Coast Guard has been given the responsibility of guarding this. They need many items like aircraft and vessels. We are compelled to extend all support. We can’t wait three-four years (by following normal procedures),” the minister said.

Antony’s remarks came a day after a parliamentary panel said lack of coordination between the Indian Navy and Coast Guard had caused the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks in which at least 170 people were killed.

“Events in the recent past have highlighted lack of coordination between (the) navy and Coast Guard resulting in a national catastrophe,” parliament’s standing committee on defence said in its 36th report tabled Tuesday, without specifically referring to the Mumbai carnage.

The committee strongly believes “it is high time that the government reviewed this issue in its entirety and initiated appropriate steps to put in place an effective mechanism for establishing better coordination and jointness between (the) navy and Coast Guard in the paramount interest of national security”, the report said.

Antony also said the fast track procedure was adopted only in the case of emergencies.

“The last meeting of the DAC (Defence Acquisitions Committee) has cleared some requests. Still, we are examining this to ensure there are no loopholes, no misuse and no manipulation,” the minister pointed out.

“Urgency is necessary but transparency is also essential,” Antony added.

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