Doubts raised over HAL contracts misleading: Nirmala Sitharaman in Lok Sabha

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NEW DELHI: Rejecting “doubts” raised by the Congress party on her statement on HAL as “incorrect and misleading”, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday said contracts worth Rs 26,570 crore have been signed by the defence PSU between 2014-18 and orders amounting to Rs 73,000 crore are in pipeline, which total about Rs 1 lakh crore.

Her clarification in Lok Sabha came amid a political furore over her earlier statement in the House regarding orders placed with state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), with Congress president Rahul Gandhi alleging she had “lied” that government orders worth Rs 1 lakh crore were provided to the company.

Amid protests by the Opposition members, Sitharaman told Lok Sabha Monday, “I would like to set all doubts to rest… The doubts raised in this regard are incorrect and misleading.”

The minister said she has received confirmation from HAL that contracts amounting to more than Rs 26,570.80 crore have been signed between 2014-18.

As per the details given by her, procurement order specifically mentions 83 Tejas aircraft worth Rs 50,000 crore, 15 combat helicopters order worth Rs 3,000 crore, 200 helicopters worth Rs 20,000 crore, 19 Dornier transport aircraft worth Rs 3,400 crore, other helicopters worth Rs 15,000 crore and aero engine worth Rs 8,400 crore.

Orders worth Rs 73,000 crore are in pipeline and all of them put together amount to Rs 1 lakh crore, she said.

“The above documents clearly confirm correctness of my statement made on the floor of the House and the doubts raised in this regard are incorrect and misleading,” the minister said.

Congress MP K C Venugopal said his party has moved a breach of privilege against the defence minister for “misleading the House”. To this, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said the notice was with her.

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge quoted HAL CMD R Madhavan from a report to support his party’s contention that the company was struggling financially and demanded a joint parliamentary committee probe into the matter.

He claimed that Sitharaman had sought to correct her statement and said wrong facts should not be put before the House.

Union Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal questioned if Kharge would authenticate the report he was quoting, while some other BJP leaders took a jibe at the party while referring to a defence dealer, who is wanted in criminal cases.





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