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Analysis

Big business gains from UP’s slaughterhouse crackdown

The crackdown has therefore skewed the market in favour of big companies, which have thus far been engaged in export of buffalo meat.

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UP slaughterhouse crackdown

Kanpur/Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh): Mohammad Shafiq took solace from the large grain container placed in a corner of the room. “This will last six to nine months. At least we won’t starve now,” he said.The 52-year-old, who lives with his family in a small hutment in a graveyard in Kanpur’s Idgah Colony, used to procure meat from the nearby government slaughterhouse and sell it by the roadside.

The 52-year-old, who lives with his family in a small hutment in a graveyard in Kanpur’s Idgah Colony, used to procure meat from the nearby government slaughterhouse and sell it by the roadside.In March 2017, the newly-elected Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) government in Uttar Pradesh (UP) ordered action against slaughterhouses and meat-sellers operating without valid licences and violating environmental and health rules.

In March 2017, the newly-elected Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) government in Uttar Pradesh (UP) ordered action against slaughterhouses and meat-sellers operating without valid licences and violating environmental and health rules.Across the state, numerous shops and slaughterhouses, including government-run abattoirs, were sealed, leading to

Across the state, numerous shops and slaughterhouses, including government-run abattoirs, were sealed, leading to severe shortage of meat and affecting the livelihoods of thousands like Shafiq who made a living by using common government abattoirs for a small fee. Essentially, failure of municipal administrations to upgrade these facilities had destroyed the vast unorganized meat industry, and hundreds of thousands of ancillary jobs.

For a while, Shafiq went back to his ancestral village with his wife and kids. There, he worked as a farm-hand even though his left hand does not function properly. “It was wheat harvesting season. I had never done that work before but with my kids’ support, I managed somehow and got 500kg grain in return,” he told IndiaSpend on a muggy June evening.

Now back in Kanpur, Shafiq hawks churan (tangy powder), tamarind and jamun around town. “Earlier my elder son used to do this work, but he suffers from night blindness. I thought I can put in more hours than him. He has now taken to buying and selling scrap. I make Rs 200-250 a day while he manages between Rs 75-125,” Shafiq said.

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Mohammad Shafiq sells churan (tangy powder) in Kanpur, central Uttar Pradesh. Till three months ago, he used to sell meat that he bought from a government abattoir in Kanpur and earned a profit of Rs 500 every day within three hours. With the closure of the slaughter house, Shafiq now hawks his wares till evening and makes Rs 200-250.

From meat-selling, Shafiq used to earn Rs 400-500 within three hours. “The meat, fresh from the slaughterhouse, would sell quickly. We don’t have refrigeration, so I would only buy as much as I could sell easily. Any leftovers, the family would use,” he said.

‘Illegal’ slaughterhouses: Past governments ignored issue

The Prevention and Control of Pollution (Uniform Consent Procedure) Rules of 1999 list slaughterhouses under the ‘red’ heavily-polluting category with potential to adversely impact public health.

In UP, as in the rest of the country, a range of agencies regulate slaughterhouses. Foremost among these is the state-level pollution regulator, the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB), which gives permission (“no-objection certificate”) for setting up a slaughterhouse after getting a go-ahead from the top district administrator, the District Magistrate (DM). The DM conducts a site inspection to assess compliance with various parameters, including law and order, before granting permission. Once a slaughterhouse is set up, the UPPCB monitors its functioning to ensure pollution control measures are in place.

If the facility is for export, approval is also required from the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA). Slaughterhouses must also follow thePrevention of Cruelty to Animals (Slaughter House) Rules, 2001, as well as obtain a license from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to ensure all animal-derived food is healthy.

Many slaughterhouses have been accused of violating norms, and the National Green Tribunal (NGT) is hearing a string of petitions seeking their upgradation or closure. In May 2015, hearing one such petition, the NGT ordered all slaughterhouses running without requisite permits in UP to be shut.

When the new BJP government assumed office in UP in March this year, it began to take action on the NGT order.

Both private and government-run slaughterhouses were shut, having failed to upgrade despite the 2015 NGT order, a previous Supreme Court order and reminders by the UPPCB.

In this partial list of 129 industrial units failing to install anti-pollution devices in 2015, 44 were slaughterhouses, 39 of which were run by municipal bodies and nagar panchayats while another was run by the Lucknow Cantonment Board. All four of capital city Lucknow’s slaughterhouses were found not to have proper treatment facilities.

According to the Uttar Pradesh Municipal Corporation Act, 1959, the construction and maintenance of public markets and slaughterhouses is an obligatory duty of the local corporation. The Allahabad High Court upheld this in an ongoing case regarding operation of slaughterhouses.

An amount of Rs 12.5 crore was sanctioned on January 3, 2017, for the modernisation of the slaughterhouse at Lucknow’s Moti Jheel, but the project got stuck when the model code of conduct for assembly elections came into force the very next day.

A similar situation prevails in other cities and towns except Agra, where the municipal corporation runs a modern abattoir.

“The responsibility of previous governments is greater than the current government. They failed to modernise the slaughterhouses for a very long time preparing the ground for the present crisis,” said Irfan Ahmad, the vice-president of the Jamiat-ul-Quresh, an organisation of slaughterhouse owners and meat and beef suppliers in Kanpur.

A comparison of the earnings and expenditures of the Lucknow and Agra municipal corporations shows how the state capital lost precious revenue by failing to modernise its slaughterhouse.

The Agra Municipal Corporation earned Rs 4.26 crore in 2014-15 from leasing out its modern slaughterhouse to a private contractor. The contractor uses the facility for export purposes and also allows individual butchers to use it for a fee of Rs 385 per buffalo. The Lucknow Municipal Corporation, in contrast, was able to charge  Rs 10 as fee for slaughtering of goat/sheep and Rs 25 for buffalo, making Rs 25.33 lakh in all. Spending Rs 44.87 lakh on staff salaries, it reported a loss of over Rs 19 lakh.

Graph1-desktop

Source: Budget documents of Lucknow and Agra municipal corporations

Lucknow: Lucknow Nagar Nigam Budget 2016-17 , Lucknow Nagar Nigam Budget 2015-16

Agra: Nagar Nigam Agra Budget 2016-17Nagar Nigam Agra Budget 2015-16

A crackdown with wide reverberations

UP, India’s top meat producer in 2012-13, has felt the reverberations far and wide.

Of the 77 APEDA-approved slaughterhouses in India, 44 are in UP. In addition to these, municipal corporations and nagar panchayats (city councils) run numerous abattoirs to meet the domestic meat requirement.

UP has a famous, long-standing non-vegetarian culinary tradition, and as per the 2011-12 consumer expenditure survey of the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), an average UP household  reported consuming 0.17 kg of buffalo meat every month, as against the all-India average of 0.10 kg.

Some 30.6% of UP households reported they consumed non-vegetarian food, while 7.95% households reported they consumed beef or buffalo meat. The all-India average was 4.5%.

Beef And Buffalo Meat Consumption
Quantity (Per 30 days) Incidence (Per 1,000 households)
Uttar Pradesh 0.17 kg 7.95
All India 0.1 kg 4.5

Source: Household Consumption of Various Goods and Services in India 2011-12 NSS) 68th Round

While India registered a 3.33% decline in livestock population during 2007-12, UP saw a 14% growth, indicating the economy’s dependence on livestock and allied businesses, IndiaSpend reported on March 29, 2017.

Source: Animal Husbandry Department, Uttar Pradesh

NOTE: *Including meat processing plants

Livelihoods lost

Kanpur’s Bakar Mandi slaughterhouse, from where Shafiq used to buy meat, was one of many government facilities which had not been modernised despite repeated reminders from the UPPCB.

Butchers would pay a small fee (Rs 25 for buffalo, Rs 10 for goat) to use the facility at night and the meat would be put on sale around the city by early morning.

“I support modernisation, but the government should have made an alternative arrangement before closing it down. A gradual phase-out would have helped everyone,” Shafiq said.

Danish Qureshi, 25, of Rampur town was similarly rendered jobless. He now drives a rented e-rickshaw for hire, although he considers meat-selling his family business. “My father had a licence issued by the Municipal Corporation 45 years back. I used to get it renewed every year,” he said, “Why didn’t anybody tell us we were doing business illegally?”

His bigger complaint is that the government is not helping butchers secure bank loans to upgrade their shops, a prerequisite to get FSSAI licenses. “Most of us have little by way of savings,” he said, adding, “Those with money have renovated their shops, but they form just one per cent of the butcher community in Rampur.”

Farmers, associated trades take a hit

At the Sunday cattle market in Tirwa village, about 15 km from Kannauj city in central UP, very few transactions were taking place as farmers were not getting the price they were quoting.

This was largely due to enforcement of the NGT order. The more recent central government ban on sale of cattle for slaughter in cattle markets–currently on hold following a Supreme Court order–is yet to be implemented on the ground.

“Last year it was notebandi, and this year it is meat bandi that has reduced demand,” said Arjun Singh, a farmer from Achanakapur village. He was seeking Rs 50,000 for a young female buffalo, but was getting offers of Rs 32,000.

Since the slaughterhouse crackdown, farmers are unable to fetch good prices even for milch cattle because buyers are worried they will be unable to resell.

“What if a buffalo is unable to breed? No other farmer would touch it. Should we keep spending on its fodder or sell it to a slaughterhouse? Why can’t the government understand this simple logic?” asked a farmer at a cattle market in Chaubepur village near Kanpur.

Brajal Kumar Dwivedi, a young farmer from Jaisinghpura village, wanted to sell a mother-calf buffalo pair for Rs 90,000. He was getting offers of up to Rs 70,000. “I bought it last year for Rs 80,000 from Sakipur mandi, had it fed and impregnated, and am still unable to get the price I paid,” he said. Engaged to be married, Dwivedi needed money for his wedding but said he would wait a few weeks for prices to stabilise, and would sell milk to the local dairy until then.

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Brajal Kumar Dwivedi of Jaisinghpura village in Kannauj district of central Uttar Pradesh wanted to sell a mother-calf buffalo pair for Rs 90,000, but he did not get offers beyond Rs 70,000. He bought the buffalo last year for Rs 80,000, fed it, had it impregnated but cannot get the right price, as demand falls. Engaged to be married, Dwivedi hoped to raise money for his wedding. He has now decided to wait for a few weeks, hoping that prices stabilise.

Jaddunath Singh of Kithwa village was not so lucky–he had to sell a buffalo at a Rs 11,000 loss because he needed money for the treatment of his hospitalised father-in-law.

Those providing ancillary services are also affected. Rajendra Singh, who lets out vehicles to transport animals, was staring at another dull day. “Most farmers are taking their animals back on the vehicles they came on. Only a buyer would hire a vehicle here, but not many deals have come through. This has been the case for the last three months,” he said.

The Pechbagh hide market in Kanpur, the largest in India for buffalo skin, has also seen trade decline over the last couple of years–particularly since the 2015 mob lynching of a Muslim man, Mohammad Akhlaq, and his son, who were suspected of stealing and slaughtering a stolen cow calf, in Dadri in eastern UP.

“Fear of cow vigilantes who beat up transporters even if they are transporting only buffalo skins has scared away suppliers,” said Akhtar Hussein Akhtar, a godown owner at Pechbagh and an office-bearer of the local Hide Merchants’ Association.

Akhtar explained that large, mechanised slaughterhouses sell hides directly to big tanneries, and only those engaged in skinning dead animals sell to merchants in Pechbagh. “[Earlier] most of the supply came from government abattoirs while weekly supply from villages filled the gap.

Now whatever raw material we are getting is from villages and that too of animals who die of natural causes, not slaughtered ones,” he said, adding that supply has gone down from 10,000 hides per month to 500. “We have also reduced our employee strength from eight workers to just one now,” he said.

According to the Hide Merchants’ Association, around 40,000 people are directly engaged in this trade. Membership of the association has reduced by half in the last few years as many have turned their godowns into garment shops.

Big businesses benefit

According to the All India Meat and Livestock Exporters’ Association, UP’s meat industry employs nearly 2.5 million people. But there’s a stark difference between the formal market consisting mostly of wealthy exporters and the informal community of butchers, meat suppliers and those trading in animal byproducts. While the former own mechanised, well-equipped slaughterhouses that usually have the requisite permits, the informal market is dependent on government-run abattoirs, most of which have now been shut down for failing to comply with rules.

The crackdown has therefore skewed the market in favor of big companies, which have thus far been engaged in export of buffalo meat. “Big companies are making tidy profits as the cattle market has tanked due to no demand from butchers. On the other hand, shortage of meat in the market has caused its price to increase. So, the companies can buy animals at a low price and sell meat at a premium,” Dharmendra Malik, general secretary of the UP branch of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), told IndiaSpend.

To combat the meat shortage, the Kanpur DM arranged a meeting of meat-sellers and private companies operating from Unnao, a leather and chemicals hub 15 km from Kanpur. “We are granting no-objection certificates  for meat shops to operate on the condition that they source meat from these companies,” Dr A.K. Singh, the veterinary officer at Kanpur Municipal Corporation.

Similar arrangements have been made in other cities, including Bareilly, Moradabad, Aligarh and Muzaffarnagar. The price of buffalo meat has gone up from Rs 150 per kg before the clampdown to Rs 200 now.

Businesses are happy to tap the market not open to them earlier. “People are not very keen on the frozen meat we supply as they are used to getting raw and fresh meat from the city abattoirs. But that option is not available now. We are currently supplying 3-4 tonnes of buffalo meat per day to Kanpur and hope to scale it up to 30-35 tonnes,” Abhishek Arora, owner of AOV Exports Limited.

Butchers, however, are unhappy at being compelled to buy from large companies. “Around a fourth of our earnings come from selling of waste material from slaughter. Entering into an agreement with the company means to let go of this profit. We would rather close down than hand over our business to the companies,” said Shahabuddin Qureshi, the general secretary of Qureshi Foundation, an association of butchers and meat-sellers in Lucknow.

A way forward?

Many said an ideal solution would be to set up an alternative slaughtering site away from habitation until the government abattoirs are modernised. “When an animal is slaughtered, around 20 people get work. There are the meat sellers, those who trade in animal skin, those selling bones and hooves, and then there are people who process the fat for sale to soap factories,” said Ahmad of Jamiat-ul-Quresh. “Now the meat sellers with licenced shops are the only ones able to do some business. All others have been rendered jobless.”

Meanwhile, illegal slaughter continues in Lucknow, clandestinely and at a smaller scale. “The animal waste which was earlier generated at one place and picked up by the municipal corporation, is now polluting densely populated areas without any proper disposal,” Qureshi asked. “What purpose has been solved with the closure of the government-run abattoirs?”

As workers struggle to reorganise their lives after the mass closure of slaughterhouses, the failure of past and present governments to organise a trade that employed hundreds of thousands is largely overlooked.

“The clampdown was much needed in view of the health and environment concerns associated with ill-equipped slaughterhouses,” said Kamna Pandey, former member of the Animal Welfare Board of India, based in Lucknow, “In fact, I don’t agree with the argument that the action needed to be in phases. But the government should have also been proactive in constructing modern slaughterhouses to avoid public loss.”

(In arrangement with IndiaSpend.org, a data-driven, non-profit, public interest journalism platform. Manu Moudgil is a freelance consultant with India Water Portal. The views expressed are those of IndiaSpend. Feedback at [email protected])

Analysis

Rafale, a political bomb for Modi

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Rafale deal scam

Within 48 hours after former French President Francois Hollande’s remarks re-ignited the allegations of crony capitalism over the Rafale deal, Modi government has remained on the back-foot, relying on weak denials and resorting to evasive narratives which places blame on the previous UPA government.

Over the past few days, there have been various statements from India’s defence ministry, the French government, from Dassault Aviation, a couple of political party press conferences and most recently a statement put out by the Finance minister Arun Jaitley.

At the end though, this is where these stakeholders stand:

1. Modi government claims it had no role in selecting an offset partner.

2. French government also claims that neither it had any role in selecting an offset partner.

3. Dassault Aviation says that the selection of Reliance was their choice.

4. Former French President Hollande, the one who negotiated deal said that Reliance was forced upon them by the Indian govt.

Now, if we look at the timeline and connect all the missing dots, we reach to the following conclusion. In March 2015, Anil Ambani’s Reliance acquires Pipavav Defence, an acquisition that it has used as a justification for being chosen as an offset partner in the Rafale deal, claiming to be a leader in different areas of defence manufacturing.

A month later, in April 2015, the Prime minister suddenly appears in Paris and announces a huge change in the earlier Rafale deal, that by all accounts, takes everybody by surprise. Anil Ambani, who attended Modi’s meeting with defence chief executives in Paris, reportedly held a long discussion with Dassault chief Eric Trappier.

While formal incorporation of Dassault Reliance Aerospace Ltd took place last year in February, the joint venture between Reliance and Dassault began functioning as early as May 2015, a few weeks after the announcement. All this lends credibility to Hollande’s full remarks to AFP, which state that Reliance’s name came in the context of a ‘new formula’ of negotiations in the Rafale deal, decided by the Modi government after it replaced UPA at the centre.

Hollande made this disclosure to refute the allegation that he may have favoured the Anil Ambani led Reliance group as a quid pro quo for a business deal struck by his partner, Julie Gayet. Last month, the leading Indian daily. The Indian Express reported that on January 24, 2016, Anil Ambani’s Reliance Entertainment entered into a deal with Julie Gayet’s firm Rouge International to jointly produce a French film and within next two days Hollande, who came as a chief guest for the Republic Day parade inked a memorandum of understanding with Narendra Modi for the purchase of 36 Rafale jets in New Delhi.

Subsequently, Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence officially became part of the offset programme of Rs 59,000 crore Rafale deal through the Dassault Reliance Aerospace Limited — a company in which Ambani holds a 51% share and Dassault the remaining 49%. However, the ex President did not reveal the name of person who proposed Ambani’s firm but the way he asserted himself, points the finger of suspicion towards people in high places that had direct access to the Prime Minister.

In spite of government’s stonewalling the information on the Rafale deal, questions on the controversial contract have kept rising in recent months. Most of the opposition parties have accused the Prime minister of bypassing the well structured process to strike a deal with France which involved a three times higher price per aircraft than the price negotiated by the earlier UPA Govt. The no of aircraft also by magic dropped from 126 to just 36, HAL, the Public sector undertaking being replaced by Anil Ambani’s firm with zero experience in defence equipment manufacture.

The government could have easily avoided the controversy and stopped it from becoming a major scandal by taking opposition leaders into confidence about the details of the agreement or it may have appointed a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to go into the details of the deal. On contrary, it has used a combination of silence — a dogged refusal to reveal the price of the aircraft and blaming the earlier UPA govt for its failure to finalise the deal. It kept on harping that it got a more competitive price than agreed upon by the UPA Govt without even revealing the actual price.

This tactic of obfuscation has begun to unravel. On one hand, the ex-President of France has forcefully contradicted the government’s claim that it had nothing to do with the choice of Reliance as an offset partner, the ex-chairman of HAL has also refuted Defence Minister Sitharaman’s charge that it was poor health of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) which was partly responsible for the failure to clinch the Rafale deal during UPA’s regime.

The former HAL chief, T. Suvarna Raju, who retired on September 1, in an interview to Hindustan Times last week said, “If HAL can build a 25-tonne Sukhoi-30, a 4th generation fighter jet that forms the mainstay of the air force, from raw material stage, then what are we talking about? We could have definitely done it”. Raju further added that why only Sukhoi, HAL had maintained the Mirage 2000 aircraft, which was also manufactured by Dassault Aviation, for last 20 years and was involved in the Mirage upgradation programme as well.

The ex Chief while countering Sitharaman’s claim that HAL was dropped from the deal when the UPA was in power since it couldn’t agree on the terms of production with Dassault, said, “Dassault and HAL had signed the mutual work-share contract and given it to the government. Why don’t you ask the Govt of India to put the files out in public? The files will tell you everything.

Sitharaman gave another flimsy argument to justify Modi government’s decision to buy just 36 Rafale fighters in “flyaway” condition on grounds that the air force would not have the “paraphernalia” to induct more than two squadrons of 18 aircraft each at a time.

This argument falls flat in the face of the fact that four former IAF chiefs had asked for a minimum of 126 fighter planes, giving a valid reason that the air force is currently way too short of its authorized strength of 42 fighter squadrons and that it has ample experience of creating the infrastructure to accommodate the future induction.

You don’t have to be an expert to see through her claim that no due process was followed in securing the deal. The actual signing may have taken place in September 2016 after the cabinet committee on security formally approved it, but Narendra Modi jumped the gun in April 2015. On his first visit to France, Modi unilaterally announced that India would buy 36 Rafale fighters. Three months later, the earlier agreement with Dassault for 126 jets was cancelled, and HAL was cut out of the picture.

Back in April 2015, less than a year after his sweeping victory, Narendra Modi was on cloud nine who had the swagger of a conquering hero who could get away with anything — no questions asked. Now with the latest revelations tumbling out on Rafale every day, that promise of running a clean and transparent government is just evaporating in thin air.

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Analysis

Over 4.5 lakh entries in ‘sexual offenders’ database, NCRB to maintain record

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National Database Sexual Offenders

New Delhi, Sep 20 : In a first, the government on Thursday came out with a National Database on Sexual Offenders (NDSO), containing a list of 4.5 lakh convicts with photos of about 3.5 lakh of them available.

The offenders face charges of rape, gangrape and eve-teasing.

The database, which was rolled out by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) along with Women and Child Development Ministry (WCD) here, will be maintained by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

The NDSO which is accessible only to law enforcement agencies will assist in effectively tracking and investigating cases of sexual offences and employee verification.

The registry which was approved by the Cabinet in April 2018 makes India the ninth country in the world to set up and maintain a national database of sexual offenders.

According to MHA, the state police have been requested to regularly update the database from 2005 onwards. The database includes name, address, photograph and fingerprint details for each entry. However, the database will not compromise any individual’s privacy.

MHA has already released a grant of Rs. 94.5 crore to states/UTs for establishing cyber forensic-cum-training laboratories to strengthen cybercrime investigation and conduct training programmes to enhance capabilities of police officers, public prosecutors and judicial officers.

According to the WCD ministry, the sex offenders listed in the database will be classified on the basis of criminal history to ascertain if they pose a serious danger to the community.

“It is a matter of great pride and joy as two initiatives that my Ministry (WCD) and I had been pursuing for three years have been executed. The launch of National Registry of Sexual Offenders and Cybercrime Reporting Portal is one more step taken by our government for the safety of our women and children,” Union WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi said.

Another web portal, “Cyber Crime Prevention Against Women and Children (CCPWC)”, an initiative under the Nirbhaya Fund was also launched which will enable complainants in reporting cases without disclosing their identity.

“Government has taken several measures to check crime against Women and Children, including provision of stringent punishment and creation of modern forensics facilities to improve investigation, creation of the Women’s Safety Division in the MHA and launching of Safe City projects for Women’s Safety,” Union MHA minister Rajnath Singh said.

The complaints registered through this portal will be handled by police authorities of respective State/UTs and complainants can also upload the objectionable content and URL to assist in the investigation by the state police.

The NCRB will proactively identify such objectionable content and take up with intermediaries for its removal. For this NCRB has already been notified as the Government of India agency to issue notices under the IT Act.

“A positive aspect of this portal is the provision for anonymous reporting, which will encourage more people to come forward with such complaints. This portal comes as a relief by providing time-bound solutions to a huge number of women and children who are being exploited in cyber space,” Gandhi added.

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Analysis

Saab is interested in Indian fighter jet deal: Swedish official

The Saab Gripen will be contesting with the likes of the Russian MiG 35, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Boeing F/A 18 and Lockheed Martin F-16 for the upcoming deal.

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Rafale deal scam

Amid the raging controversy over the Defence Ministry’s procurement of the Rafale fighter aircraft from French firm Dassault Aviation, a senior Swedish official has said that his country’s firm Saab, in its Gripen aircraft, has the requisite experience to contest for the upcoming Indian deal for manufacturing 110 new fighter jets under the Make in India programme.

“I know that Saab is interested, they want to be a part of this procurement,” Teppo Tauriainen, Director General for Trade in the Swedish Foreign Ministry, told IANS in an interview here.

“They think they have something good to offer that will be of interest to India,” Tauriainen said.

“They, of course, know what the expectations of the government is in terms of local production and cooperation with a local partner.”

India is expected to select by the end of this year one fighter aircraft that will be manufactured by the private sector under the Make in India programme for supply to the Indian Air Force.

The Saab Gripen will be contesting with the likes of the Russian MiG 35, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Boeing F/A 18 and Lockheed Martin F-16 for the upcoming deal.

While MiG has already said that it will have state-owned Hindustan Aeronautic Limited (HAL) as its local partner, Indian companies like Tata, Reliance Defence, Mahindra and Adani are in the fray for local partners in the project that is expected to be worth over $20 billion (Rs 1.44 lakh crore).

Tauriainen said that for Saab, contesting for the deal will be nothing new as it has signed a similar deal for Gripen with the Brazilian government with Embraer as its local partner.

“I have myself visited the Brazilian partner, Embraer, and seen there are a lot of spin-offs locally in the Brazilian economy from this fighter jet deal,” he said.

“So, I think for Saab, as a company, it won’t be unusual to do it the way the Indian government wants it to happen.”

During his visit to Sweden in April this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that defence and security have emerged as an important pillar of the India-Sweden bilateral partnership.

“Sweden has been a partner of India in the defence sector for a long time. I am confident new opportunities for cooperation in this sector will arise in the future, especially in defence production,” Modi said.

During that visit, an India-Sweden Partnership was also announced with a fund of 50 million Swedish kronor (around $5.6 million) for innovation cooperation in the fields of smart cities and sustainability.

Asked what steps have been taken in this connection, Tauriainen said that the dialogue for these projects has started though none of these projects have started operating.

“But we have come quite far to identify areas where we think there is a potential to do cooperation,” he said.

He said that sustainable technology is a broad area and is very much related to how cities are built in terms of transport, energy, waste and waste water.

“There we have some interesting experiences and I hope that is of relevance to India,” Tauriainen said.

“Some technologies we have already tested in Sweden. Other technologies will have to be adapted to Indian conditions,” he added.

In Sweden, waste is actually used to generate power and only one per cent of the waste goes to the landfill.

Asked about the presence of around 180 Swedish companies in India and their role in the Indian economy, Tauriainen said these are doing good business despite “some limitations”.

“They wouldn’t mind if those limitations are taken away. But they are interested in the Indian market and most of them are interested in expanding,” he said.

(Aroonim Bhuyan can be contacted at [email protected])

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