Thursday, January 17, 2013

Exclusive- Spare a thought for spares, Mr Minister

Neelam Mathews
Jan 13, 2013
Even as concerns on border skirmishes surge and both sides threaten dire consequences, the Indian army is increasingly getting concerned about a subject that is politically incorrect in today’s power corridors, but vital for the health of its soldiers who fight for us and for its own movement- spares for some 8000 Tatra trucks on its inventory. The army understands that when in crisis, it needs to ensure what the country’s priorities are.
One’s memory is jogged when during the height of Kargil conflict, the defense ministry withdrew the ban on Bofors, after the army pushed for it arguing that it was running short of spare parts for the 155mm guns. In fact, the army had dismantled several Bofors guns to cannibalise spare parts. Let’s hope this doesn’t happen in the case of the Tatra trucks - many of which are already lying aside because of lack of spares since the army is prevented from dealing with the company even though the investigation is ongoing.
Ofcourse, there’s always an option of replacing the 8000 trucks- but that in itself will be sacrilege, for, can we waste public money given that we’re going through tough economic times and the money could be used for procurement of more urgent defense equipment?  All one can say is let’s not forget the Kargil experience. By all means do what you have to, but not at the risk of the country’s security. For it might just come back to haunt you, as did Kargil.
AerospaceDiary learns an RFP is out for 21 trucks. It is strange that Tatra’s nearest competitor bidding for the RFP is a much wider and heavier truck, and cannot be used on the narrow mountainous roads it is meant for. Unfortunately, the Tata truck has not completed trials, we hear. A senior official in the IA on anonymity tells us: “Tatra’s truck design had a center of gravity that worked well on high narrow roads and the modular design helped us to plan according to our needs.”
 Incidentally, the CBI did not find any "adverse comments" regarding the quality of Tatra truck's spare parts last year.
Who will bell the cat, we ask.


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