Has the media missed the AgustaWestland chopper rip-off? – T. S. V. Hari

AgustaWestland 101 VVIP Helicopter

T. S. V. HariThe Westland human waste hits the fan!

In a nutshell is a huge scandal built on utter meaninglessness with one motive – stealing from the people of India. If someone as simple as the poor old author of this blog can suss this out, everyone else in the government and the highly paid media surely have. – T.S.V. Hari

All members of India’s “highly paid members of the investigative media,” without any exception, have either missed the obvious part of the AgustaWestland choppergate or deserve to be given Oscar awards for wonderful acting before the idiot box cameras and/or are bloody fools who cannot see beyond their silly noses.

India that is Bharat has lost Rs. 1000 crores already in the shameful AgustaWestland deal.

This icludes bribes amounting to € 24.3 million [Rs. 187 crores], that allegedly changed hands — and such included those of the scribe-tribe too. This splurge was for buying virtually a dozen pieces of high-priced, completely useless AW101 VVIP helicopters.

Why did an Italian company pay such a huge bribe?

Reasons:

The deal is worth Rs. 3,900 crores for 12 choppers at today’s prices.

a. The simple arithmetic: Rs. 325 crores [US$50 million] is the price for a single AW101 helicopter meant to ferry top most VVIPs of India.

b. The capacity of such persons’ retinue, at best, could be 12. AW101 is capable of carrying up to 45 standing combat troops, 16 stretchers and allied cargo pallets during military missions. It is operated by a pilot, an observer, and a crewman/operator.

The obvious implication is that Orsi had unbelievably jacked up the price.

Indicative inferences:

An Italian court sentenced the former head of Finmeccanica, Giuseppe Orsi, to two years in prison for false bookkeeping.

Finmeccanica ex-boss Giuseppe Orsi was convicted in 2014 for alleged tax-evasion, said Richard L Cassin in the FCPA Blog.

Compare it with the price of a 737-ER Boeing series today.

The price range starts from $51.5 million which can carry up to 140 passengers comfortably seated. And one can bargain because of the ongoing global recession.

Bottom-lines:

Of the Rs.1000 crores lost by India, Rs.187 crores have disappeared into several decision-makers’ pockets as bribes during UPA I & II.

Such choppers are available in the international market for as low as Rs. 20 crores each. Roughly, that is the price – inclusive of profits – that Finmeccanica ought to have been paid.

In other words, India ought to have paid only Rs. 240 crores!

Instead, the taxpayers of India have shelled out Rs. 1000 crores – that may never return.

Finmeccanica has recovered its cost, made a profit and probably, its bosses are laughing at India!

No wonder the firm paid such bribes!

Back home, in India that is Bharat, the buck-passing obfuscation is going merrily.

The bribe-takers in India are obfuscating the issue by citing asinine details that have no bearing on the matter.

One of them is the height, crows a media report.

In August 1999, IAF felt the need for the replacement of Mi-8 VIP helicopters as they were completing their total technical life. Also, they were unable to operate safely at night and in places with elevation beyond 2000 meters. IAF made a strong plea for a high altitude flying helicopter for areas like Siachen and the Tiger Hill. The key requirement for the helicopter was how high it could fly. Agusta Westland’s A-101 failed to make the list after flight evaluation.

The CBI says former air chief Tyagi’s letter dated March 8, 2005 gave approval to a flying height of 15000 feet for the Westland helicopters. Until then, the air force had been insisting that the helicopters should be able to fly at 18000 feet.

On March 14, 2013, a report in NDTV had stated thus:

The FIR quotes two letters from the air force in January 2004 and November 2004 to the Prime Minister’s Office and the defence ministry.

This is contrary to earlier reports suggesting that Brajesh Mishra, national security advisor in the BJP-led NDA government, had asked for changes in the altitude requirements so that a single vendor situation wouldn’t arise. However, the only other contender was Eurocopter, which met all the specifications but was rejected by the Special Protection Group, which looks after the security of VVIPs like the Prime Minister.

So, why are these utterly meaningless exercises at this stage?

The top VVIPs of India are the President and the Prime Minister.

The only Prime Minister to visit high altitude forward areas is Narendra Damodardas Modi – who spent the Diwali Day with soldiers in Kargil in 2014. The place’s elevation: 2,676 m (8,780 ft)!

Rarely do heads of state visit mountain passes over 12,000 feet above mean sea level [MSL].

Are there helipads in Rashtrapathi Bhavan and/or 7 RCR – the official residences of the top VVIPs of India that is Bharat?

The answer is NO!

So, does India that is Bharat, whose 60% is facing drought and 10% facing floods, whose 30% population is below the poverty-line and whose most airports are ill-equipped to handle traffic when compared with Singapore or London, need these high-priced machines?

The answer surely is NO!

The empirically ironical data:

The people of India have lost Rs. 1000 crores in the deal.

Of this Rs. 187 crores have disappeared into the pockets as bribes.

The bribe-givers have been arrested in Italy.

The bribe-takers in India are obfuscating the issue by citing asinine details that have no bearing on the matter.

The top 13 passes within the land area of the Indian Union where choppers can arguably land are:

  1. The Dungri la or Mana Pass is the high altitude mountain pass and the highest motorable road with an elevation of 5,608 m (18,399 feet) linking India and Tibet.
  2. The great Khardung La pass is located near the Leh in Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir at an elevation of 5,602 m (18,380 feet).
  3. The Borasu Pass connects Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh states at an elevation of 5,450 m (17,881 feet). It is located near the Chinese border.
  4. The Chang La pass of Ladakh is at an altitude of 5,360 m (17,590 feet) located on the route to Pangong Lake from Leh.
  5. The Debsa Pass [5,360-metre/17,590 feet] in the Himalayas and connects the Kullu and Spiti valley of Himachal Pradesh.
  6. The Lipulekh pass connects the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand to Purang in Tibet at elevation of 5,334 m (17,500 feet).
  7. The Karakoram Pass is situated at an elevation of 4,693 m (15,397 feet) between India and China in the Karakoram Range.
  8. The Rupin Pass located at an elevation of 4650 m (15,250 feet) in the great Himalayan ranges. It consists of deep dark valleys, icy slopes and snow fields. It is mostly uninhabited.
  9. The major Nathu La pass connects Sikkim to Tibet region at an altitude of 4,310 m (14,140 feet) in the Himalayas mountain ranges.
  10. Jelep La Pass is situated in the East Sikkim District at an elevation of 4,270 m (14,009 feet).
  11. The frozen Sela Pass is situated at an elevation of 4,170 m (13,680 feet) in Tawang District of Arunachal Pradesh.
  12. Rohtang Pass connects Kullu Valley with the Lahaul and Spiti Valleys at an altitude of 3,978 m (13,051 feet) on Manali-Leh Highway. Rohtang Pass open from May to November only and rest of time it is very difficult to cross due to snowstorms and avalanches.
  13. The Chanshal Pass in Himachal Pradesh is at an elevation of 4,520 m (14,830 feet).

Indian Prime Ministers rarely do such visits. Even if they do, the existing choppers are enough as all of them can go up to the maximum height to which the PM or President need to reach, which is below 9,000 feet above MSL.

In a nutshell is a huge scandal built on utter meaninglessness with one motive – stealing from the people of India. If someone as simple as the poor old author of this blog can suss this out, everyone else in the government and the highly paid media surely have.

The opening gambit of this article once again:

All members of India’s “highly paid members of the investigative media,” without any exception, have either missed the obvious part of the AgustaWestland choppergate or deserve to be given Oscar awards for wonderful acting before the idiot box cameras and/or are bloody fools who cannot see beyond their silly noses.Incubation, 1 May 2016

» T.S.V. Hari is an independent senior journalist in Mumbai who blogs at Incubation.

Christian Michel, the British ‘consultant’ who allegedly played a vital role in fixing the VVIP chopper deal for AgustaWestland, is alleged to have told officials of the company to “target” the closest advisers of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi to win the contract.

Christian Michel, the British ‘consultant’ who allegedly played a vital role in fixing the VVIP chopper deal for AgustaWestland, is alleged to have told officials of the company to “target” the closest advisers of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi to win the contract. 
Sonia Gandhi

See also

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