Politics holding up $3-billion Indian Warships deal : ReportAug 09,2018 SOURCE: Asia Times
The Indian Navy wants to acquire warships that can carry at least 3,000 troops as well as battle tanks, but the government has not been able award a contract to either of the two companies competing for the contract. Choosing one company over the other could lead to political problems and the delay has forced the navy to wait for its plans to materialize, according to the Russian website Sputnik News. The issue involves four landing platform docks (LPDs) for the navy and the two competing companies are Larsen & Toubro India (L&T) and Reliance Naval Engineering Ltd (RNEL). L&T is linked to Spain’s Navantia and RNEL with DCNS of France. Spokesmen for RNEL have alleged that a senior Indian Navy officer has been favoring its competitor L&T, Sputnik News reports. RNEL has asked India’s anti-corruption agencies to investigate the matter while L&T has questioned RNEL’s ability to complete the US$3-billion contract. On the other hand, the opposition Congress Party told Sputnik News that it believes the government is siding with RNEL. The diesel-electric propulsion LPD ships, which are about 200 meters long, will have the capacity to remain at sea for at least 45 days and will be able to carry six battle tanks, 20 infantry combat vehicles and 40 heavy trucks, as well as helicopters. Each ship will also carry 1,430 military personnel, 470 sailors and 900 soldiers. The aim is to bolster India’s defense capabilities and combat readiness in the Indian Ocean region, where India now is competing for influence with an increasingly assertive China.