Defence Minister AK Antony Wednesday asked officials to examine issues raised by Heavy Industries Minister Praful Patel, who said that the tender to replace IAF's fleet of transport aircraft was restricted to private players.
In a statement, the defence ministry said Antony has asked officials to look into the matter that Patel has raised. "The Defence Ministry is in receipt of a letter dated Oct 7, 2013, from the Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises addressed to the Defence Minister on the matter of procuring 56 aircraft as replacement of the existing AVRO aircraft fleet," the statement said.
Patel, a senior leader of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), is part of the ruling United Progressive Alliance at the centre. Patel has said that public sector undertakings (PSUs) should be given a level playing field in the competition on the tender to procure 56 aircraft to replace the AVRO fleet.
He said all capable entities should be provided equal opportunity, irrespective of being "public" or "private" in nature, to encourage healthy competition. The heavy industries minister said there were several PSUs which meet all the prescribed criteria for participating in the tender, but "are being denied the opportunity only because they are PSUs".
Sources said the defence ministry had restricted the competition on tender to replace the Indian Air Force's transport aircraft to private players in the Indian defence industry.