New Delhi: Amid growing pressure for impartial probe into VVIP Chopper Deal, the Centre has prepared a factsheet in this regard in which it has been mentioned that the deal was approved by the then Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee in 2005.

As per the reports, the chopper deal with Italian firm Finmeccanica for the supply of 12 choppers for the VVIPs got the final nod during Pranab Mukherjee’s stint as Defence Minister in 2005. The factsheet further states that the tender was cleared when SP Tyagi, now retired, was the Air Chief Marshal.

The government’s factsheet has also pointed fingers against the BJP-led NDA government. According to the factsheet, the then National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra during NDA regime wrote to the then Defence Secretary in 2003, asserting him that more companies should be invited for tenders and said that the existing rules were unfair as it allowed only single bidder. The letter also asserted that the qualifying height of the choppers should be reduced from 18,000 feet to at least 14,000 feet.

With the existing rules, Eurocopter was only found eligible to enter the bidding process, the letter mentioned.

Mishra further met the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee over the issue and urged him to reconsider the norms to include more bidders. After the meeting, the altitude requirements were brought down from 6,000 to 4,500 metres.

When fresh tender, that incorporated the changed norms, was announced, three foreign defence companies entered the bidding process. Out of the three firms, AgustaWestland was finally selected. The deal finally got green signal from the Cabinet Committee on Security on January 18, 2010.


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