New Delhi: With expectations being raised a month or so back that the final price for the Adm Gorshkov/INS Vikramaditya refit programme would soon be resolved comes the revelation that negotiations between both nations related to the vexatious issue are yet to conclude. According to the Indian defence minister, AK Antony, both India and Russia are yet to conclude negotiations on the "substantial increase" in price being asked for by Russia.
Antony informed the parliament Wednesday that criticism expressed over the ship's viability will also be kept in mind before signing the final contract.
|Image: US Navy|
"Russia has demanded a substantial increase. The negotiations on this so far have been inconclusive. Before we take a final decision, we will verify everything (said against the deal), including the report of the CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General)," Antony said during the question hour in the Rajya Sabha.
Antony was responding to a supplementary question on CAG's observation that the "second-hand" carrier would be 60 per cent costlier than a new one and also that there was a risk of further delay in its delivery.
The original deal, signed in 2004, envisaged as total payment of $1.5 billion by India for the vessel. Of this, $948 million was to be spent on refitting the 45,000 tonne vessel and the balance on the purchase of a navalised version of the MiG-29 ('K') combat jets and Kamov anti-submarine warfare helicopters for deployment aboard the ship.
Sometime in 2007 matters reached a stalemate with Russians insisting that the contract had to be re-negotiated. While the current demand is for $2.9 billion, India is reportedly ready to compromise over a figure of $2.2 billion.