Seeking to turn the tables on the Opposition, Defence Minister A K Antony today said the present government has not purchased a single new Tatra truck and the current deliveries were being made as per the contract signed in 2003.
Taking on the Opposition during Question Hour in the Lok Sabha, Antony said the government has continued with the procurement norms established as per General Staff Qualitative Requirement (GSQR) of 1986.
"We have nothing to hide. So I can answer very boldly," he said, as BJP members tried to disrupt his reply.
He said no new order has been placed for Tatra trucks since the GSQR was changed in 2008 as per the request of the army headquarters.
Antony said India has been procuring trucks from Tatra since 1973 and after the break of the Czechoslovakia into Czech Republic and Slovakia, the then Indian government renewed the contract with the company in 1997.
"In 1997, the then government decided to have a new contract with Tatra. Again in 2003, another contract was signed. Again on record I can show you that it was given to Tatra. This contract continues," Antony said.
The Defence Minister pointed out that 2,950 Tatra trucks were procured between 1999 and 2003 by the then government, quoting special circumstances and requirement for troop movement for Operation Parakram.
"Between 1986 and 2012, we have procured nearly 6,500 vehicles from Tatra. Quoting special circumstances, in 1999, 2001 and 2002-03, 2950 vehicles were procured by the government of that day from Tatra for Operation Parakram. This has been going on like this," he said.
Antony said the government goes by the demands put forward by the defence forces while buying equipment.
"Government always procures as per the requirement of the army. We are not imposing on them. The army headquarters wanted to change the GSQR as the present one was of 1986," he said.
A meeting of Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) was subsequently called on September 26, 2008, which was attended by the three defence chiefs.
"After change of GSQR even till today we have not procured a single truck from Tatra," he said.
Antony said trials are going on in which six Indian and 14 foreign companies are participating.
"Don't try to create a doubt," Antony told the Opposition members.
He asked the members to understand the background of how Tatra trucks have been bought by the army.
"Please understand the history of Tatra. Government of India and Armed Forces are not procuring or purchasing from Tatra for one year, or two years or seven years... Indian Army is procuring Tatra since 1973. Then Czechoslovakia was one country," Antony said.