A history of controversies plagues India’s quest to build submarines. From the scandal around the German HDW submarine in 1990 — which left the project halfway through and investigations that closed due to the lack of evidence — to the Scorpene project, which is seeing its third ‘mini scandal’, the list is long.
The Scorpene has been under the scanner ever since the Rs 18,000 crore deal was inked in October 2005. The first allegation was that the French submarine was bought after kickbacks were paid to India to the tune of 4 per cent. The allegations got more wind after the war-room leaks case of 2006 in which sensitive data were allegedly leaked from Navy HQ.
Among the people probed by the CBI in the controversy was arms dealer Abhishek Verma, currently in jail for another defence ministry-related case. But CBI told a court in July 2008 that it had no evidence that kickbacks were paid and the case was closed. The Scorpene ran into trouble due to differences between French manufacturer DCNS and MDL that was to produce it here.
Construction started in 2009, four years after the contract was signed. The CAG, which audited the deal after the row, came down heavily on the government. In a report, it blamed the government for taking nine years to conclude contract for six submarines, leading to an increase in price by Rs 2,383 crore.
In 2011, the project was hit with a major breach and flooding at MDL where the vessels were being made. While the first submarine was to be delivered by December 2012, it only hit the water in October 2015 and is now to be inducted in October this year.