Dear CAG, You Must Probe the Opacity of Modi’s Push for Jaitapur; It Is yet Another Rafale, Only, Much Worse

As India and France hastily move to expedite the Jaitapur project by negotiating the ‘techno-commercial’ agreement in a completely secret and unaccountable manner, India’s former Union Power Secretary writes to the Comptroller and Auditor General(CAG) to look into the matter at the earliest. We are reproducing Dr. EAS Sarma’s open letter below: 

E A S Sarma
14-40-4/1 Gokhale Road
Visakhapatnam 530002


Shri Rajiv Mehrishi

Dear Shri Mehrishi,

Please see my letter dated 12-1-2019 to the PM on the opacity of procuring nuclear reactors for Jaitapur project in Maharashtra and the serious safety concerns.

In view of the far reaching implications, I feel that C&AG should audit this deal comprehensively.

You may recall that the PM had signed two agreements with France in January 2016, one for import of 36 Rafale jets from Dassault company and another for import of nuclear reactors from EDF/Areva group. Both these deals lack transparency. Both Dassault and EDF/Areva are facing financial problems.

In the case of Rafale jets, it is unfortunate that the present government, instead of strengthening the hands of HAL so as to permit it to absorb technology, has chosen to allow Dassault to engage with private players whose capacity to deliver is highly dubious. With FDI norms progressively relaxed, such private companies may soon slip into the hands of foreign agencies. Such an approach will also help the foreign agencies seeking to maintain their hegemony over strategic areas such as defence aviation!.

It is ironic that the government should divert funds from the Defence budget to pay a huge amount to Dassault for the Rafale jets, withholding the legitimate flow of funds from the same budget to HAL for the services already delivered by HAL. These are serious matters of impropriety about which the Parliament should be kept fully informed.

I am not sure whether you are aware of the fact that a political party worker has been appointed by the Defence Ministry on the Board of HAL, which defies all logic of the need to induct professionals into the higher echelons of management of a PSU like HAL. This violates the guidelines issued by the government for nominating persons as Directors of PSUs. Political interference in the management of HAL will weaken the PSU.

It looks as though the tax payer of this country will be paying dearly for both Rafale and EDF reactors, for no fault of his/her. In the specific case of EDF/Areva reactors, the DAE headed by the PM himself is rushing forward without even caring to put in place an independent nuclear regulatory authority. In the past, your predecessors had commented on this. The enclosures to my letter contain a detailed evaluation of the concerns.

C&AG should audit both these deals, without yielding to extraneous pressures, as the concerns expressed by me and the others are serious, potentially affecting the welfare of the people at large. As I have been writing to your office time and again, C&AG has the obligation to evaluate the social cost of excluding HAL from the Rafale deal and place a comprehensive report before the Parliament. If such an analysis is not done, it will imply keeping the public and the Parliament in the dark on such an important matter.

I have written formally to the Director of CBI to investigate the improprieties involved in both Rafale and EDF/Areva deals but, in view of the manner in which the present government has dealt with CBI, I am not sure whether CBI will ever be allowed to act independently. Therefore, the onus of examining these deals rests squarely on your office.

Being a Constitutional authority, the people of this country repose faith and confidence in C&AG. I hope that your office will not hesitate to justify it.


Yours sincerely,

E A S Sarma
Former Secretary to GOI

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