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Govt to start process to buy 12 minesweepers afresh

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A Pondicherry class minesweeper operational in the Indian Navy. An Indian Navy photo

NEW DELHI (PTI): The Government will start a fresh process this month to procure 12 advanced minesweepers for Indian Navy after negotiations for the Rs 32,000-crore project between the Goa Shipyard and a South Korean company hit a dead-end.

The Navy badly needs the minesweepers or mine counter-measure vessels to guard India's critical sea lanes in the backdrop of China's growing naval might in the Indian Ocean region.

"We will issue fresh EoI (Expression of Interest) for the project very soon. It will be issued this month," Chairman of state-run Goa Shipyard Ltd Rear Admiral (retd) Shekhar Mital told PTI.

Sources said the Goa Shipyard Ltd had to call off the negotiations with Kangnam Corporation following differences over a host of issues including terms and conditions for technology transfer.

The EoI is likely to be issued to a number of major foreign defence majors which build minesweepers.

According to original understanding, the Goa Shipyard and the Kangnam Corporation were to build 12 minesweepers in India under the Make in India initiative and the deliveries were to be completed within nine years of the start of the project.

However, both sides struggled to finalise various key aspects of the project.

A parliamentary standing committee on defence last year had slammed the Government for delay in procurement of the minesweepers and asked it to make efforts to fill the gap in the Navy's capability.

The minesweeper ships detect and destroy underwater mines and are considered vital for keeping the critical sea lanes safe.

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