68 Planes Instead of 28 – Why So, Mr. Praful Patel?
- Ex Civil Aviation minister Praful Patel has long been under a cloud for having persuaded if not forced the national carrier Air India into buying excess number of aircraft from Boeing. Whereas the earlier order was for 28 aircraft, the subsequent order rose to 68. Was this in excess of requirement? Why were so many aircraft bought? Who benefited and how?
- The allegations against Mr. Praful Patel have been circulating since 2011 when large sections of the media blamed the civil aviation minister for the financial mess that Air India for itself in. the purchases made from global aviation giant Boeing was referred to as ‘inflated’, without proper backing of a revenue plan or route expansion scheduling. (Source – India Today)
- Mr. Patel has also been under a cloud for the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines in 2007 – something that trade analysts claim could have been the main reason for the company languishing in the financial doldrums; a merger that is referred to as a ‘Failed Merger’.
- In his book, The Descent of Air India, former head honcho of Air India, Mr. Jitendra Bhargava, spoke about the decline of India’s national carrier airline and offered his views about Praful Patel’s contribution to the situation. However publisher Bloomsbury decided to withdraw the publication and pulp all existing copies of the book because of an out of court settlement. (Source – DNA).
- It was the former civil aviation minister himself who brought about the defamation suit that resulted in the withdrawal of the book and destruction of all copies. Clearly a result brought about by the portions of the book that criticised and pilloried Mr. Praful Patel.
- The storm featuring 787 Boeing Dreamliner has been sparked once again because of the interview of Mr. Vinod Rai yesterday with Arnab Goswami on the Times Now Channel on TV. The 11th Comptroller and Auditor General of India spoke about a wide range of subjects, including the Air Indian aircraft acquisition.
- The Times Now interviewer read an excerpt from a report – “’In a draft audit report which had been sent by the CAG to the ministry for its comments, audit had views and expressions in the meeting, the minister nudged …Air India to revisit its proposal” and asked if the minster had been coercing or forcing Air India to spend more money than required.
- Mr. Rai confirmed that the sum of Rs 38,000 crores was involved; that “it went up from about 1000 million dollars to about 6000 million dollars, that’s the way it went.” He also confirmed that “97 percent of this purchase amount was going to be debt,” something that makes little sense for a company that is so strapped for cash and so hugely in debt. (source – India Times)
- The question begs to be asked – why 68 planes instead of the original 28? Who benefited? How? To what extent?
The full interview of Mr. Vinod Rai can be viewed here:
Image source – Praful Patel Wikipedia
Disclaimer: All views are personal