Tuesday, May 30, 2017

CBI files FIR in aircraft deal, ex-aviation minister defends

New Delhi: Former civil aviation minister Praful Patel said the UPA government had adhered to all the processes for the purchase of the 111 aircraft for national carriers that cost Air India about Rs 70,000 crore. He also said the purchase decision was cleared by the former finance minister P Chidambaram-led Empowered Group of Ministers.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered three separate cases in connection with the alleged irregularities in the purchase or hiring of the aircraft during the tenure of Patel.

The move by CBI is crucial as it has already initiated a preliminary inquiry into all these aspects after the Supreme Court's direction in November 2013.

Patel said when the UPA government came to power, Air India was struggling with its old fleet.

In 2003, the Vajpayee government decided to disinvest in Air India, and therefore no new acquisition was considered.

"In 2004, the UPA government decided to continue AI as a public sector undertaking (PSU). At the time, I informed the prime minister (Manmohan Singh) that it was difficult to turn around AI with its current fleet and precarious financial condition. The government decided there was need to continue AI operations but to induct new planes as the international and domestic competition was taking away customers," Patel said.
30/05/17 DNA