29 June 2011

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CAG Report labeled as Top Secret exposing Rs.450 Crore Israeli unmanned aerial vehicles Scam in NTRO

CAG Report labeled as Top Secret exposing Rs.450 Crore
Israeli unmanned aerial vehicles Scam in NTRO

The comptroller and auditor general has exposed or found Rs 450-crore scam involving the purchase of Israeli unmanned aerial vehicles by the Hyderabad-based National Technical Research Organization, a technical arm of the external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing.

The research body was set up in 2004, primarily for the strategic monitoring of satellite, terrestrial and Internet communications.

The Government has not tabled the report, classified as “top secret” by the CAG in Parliament, even though the auditor submitted it to President Pratibha Patil
This is the first time that a CAG report has been classified as ‘top secret’.

The CAG submitted its report to the government in the second week of February, marking it as "top secret" since its release in the public domain can blow off the secrecy of the NTRO's operations.

The government decided to keep the report under wraps and did not table it the Parliament.

Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) had sanctioned Rs 300 Crore in 2007 for the purchase of UAVs from Israel Aerospace Industries. NTRO, however, purchased additional satellite link and electronic intelligence equipment worth Rs 150 Crore from the company without keeping the CCS in the loop.

As per norms. NTRO Chairman can sanction up to Rs 20 Crore only and he has to go to CCS via the PMO for payments above the specified limit.

After getting approval from CCS for Rs 300 Crore, the NTRO finalized the deals with the Israeli Aerospace Industries without inviting any tender.

The CAG report says that the organization also purchased Satellite Links from the same vendor without conducting trials.
The extra payment of Rs 150 Crore was given to Israelis by splitting the purchases dubiously in several project heads to match the Chairman’s sanctioned limit of Rs 20 Crore.
The same dubious ways were adopted in the purchase of Electronic Intelligence equipment also.
The then NTRO chief tweaked the rules that empowered him to spend up to Rs 20 Crore without clearance from the CCS by paying the additional Rs 150 crores in several smaller installments to show he was not overstepping his financial powers.

the auditor finds that the Satellite Link was not tested in Indian terrain and the “NTRO accepted Israeli’s claim that the Link was tested successfully in Australia”.
The CAG has noted that the UAVs are lying grounded as the satellite link purchased was not meant for dedicated transmission and the military personnel in the NTRO objected to launching them, as it would allow any person to download sensitive data.

NTRO chairman KVSS Prasada Rao, a scientist who retired last October, and its current adviser M S Vijayaraghavan, have been indicted in the CAG report. Rao had also served in the space department and the Defence Research and Development Organization earlier.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011