By Pradip R Sagar Published: 09th May 2015 05:00 AM – The New Indian Express
NEW DELHI: A probe is on into allegations that a Pune-based laboratory of the country’s premier defence research agency DRDO had developed and donated a hi-tech chariot to a temple, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar informed Parliament on Friday.
Express in its report dated November 23 had reported that the DRDO laboratory had spent `5 crore to develop a hi-tech chariot and donated it to Alandi Temple in Pune.
Responding to a` question raised in the Lok Sabha by TDP MP C H Malla Reddy on the matter, Parrikar said in a written reply that the matter is “under inquiry”.
“Further action would be taken thereafter,” he added.
This shocking piece of information came out after a scientist of the same laboratory moved the Bombay High Court over the absurd venture and filed a complaint with the CVC.
The scientist, was made to pay for raising his voice. The DRDO, in turn, not only stripped him off from ongoing projects, but also transferred him from the centre.
Dr S Guruprasad, Director of the laboratory Research and Development Establishment (engineers), Pune, had told Express that they had built the battery-operated chariot over a year’s time and the DRDO carried out the project under the head of corporate social responsibility (CSR).
The chariot can run for about 12 hours and the battery takes six hours to get fully charged. The chariot is made of carbon fibre, which has reduced its weight considerably to 1,900 kg from about 4,000 kg of the old chariot.
R&DE, Pune, has a mandate to design and develop combat engineering systems such as military bridging and mine warfare systems, development of field defence systems and, design and development of weapon launch systems such as Prithvi, Agni, Brahmos, Nirbhay, among others.
While numerous DRDO projects such as the Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, Nag missile, long-range surface-to-air missile and the airborne early warning and control system have been delayed and have cost much higher than their original estimates, indulging in such an expensive “religious” project have raised many eyebrows.