Nirmala Sitharaman Meets HAL Top Brass, Assures Of Financial Assistance

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Nirmala Sitharaman assured HAL of all required assistance to help it come out of the financial crisis.

New Delhi:

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday met the top brass of the aerospace major HAL and assured them of all required assistance to help the firm come out of the current financial crisis, the official sources said.

Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat, Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba and IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa were among those present at the meeting, they said.

The meeting came amid increasing attack on the government by the Congress following reports of severe financial crisis in the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) which produces a variety of attack helicopters and fixed wing aircraft.

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HAL Chairman and Managing Director R Madhavan apprised Ms Sitharaman about the financial condition of the public sector undertaking and steps being initiated to overcome the difficulties.

It is learnt that he has requested the IAF to clear the pending dues which is in the range of around 15,000 crore, the sources said.

Replying to the debate on the Rafale deal in Parliament, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman last week said the government had provided HAL orders worth Rs 1 lakh crore.

Days later, a media report claimed that "not a single rupee of the said Rs 1 lakh crore has come to HAL, since not a single order, as claimed, has been signed till now". The media report cited senior HAL management officials in order to back its claim.

There was another report which said HAL was even struggling to pay salaries to its employees and have taken loans to tide over the crisis.

Following the reports, Congress President Rahul Gandhi accused Ms Sitharaman of "lying" and alleged that the PM Modi government was weakening the state-run aerospace major.

Ms Sitharaman rejected the charges, and said HAL has signed contracts worth Rs 26,570.8 crore between 2014 and 2018 and contracts worth Rs 73,000 crore are in the pipeline.

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