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Auditor slaps Indian army over delay in gun deals

India's national auditors on Tuesday blasted the military for dragging its feet on the procurement of modern artillery pieces, saying delays had denied the million-plus army crucial firepower. "The abnormal delay in procurement of new guns has not only impacted the operational preparedness of the army but also resulted in substantial cost over runs," the Comptroller Auditor General said in a report unveiled in parliament.

"Also, procurement of these guns is not in sight in the foreseeable future," it said, referring to negotiations to acquire some 700 artillery pieces that have been dragging on for the past 15 years. The auditors said the Indian army was still armed with "obsolete technology of 1970s vintage".

The Indian military has not bought modern artillery since the 1980s when a bribery scandal erupted involving the Swedish armament firm Bofors. Bofors was accused of paying bribes of $1.3 billion to secure the sale of the artillery, though the company and all those accused have always maintained their innocence. Then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was voted out of office in 1989 largely over the Bofors deal.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011