HAL, Light Combat Helicopter, LCH, DefExpo 2018
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)'s Light Combat Helicopter is expected to huge attention at DefExpo 2018Soumepa via Creative Commons

Cash-strapped state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) on Sunday said it had taken an overdraft of Rs 962 crore.

"With anticipated collection up to March, the cash position is expected to improve. Orders for LCA (Light Combat Aircraft) Mark 1A 83 and LCH (Light Combat Helicopter) 15 are in advanced stages," said the city-based defence behemoth in a tweet from its official Twitter account on Sunday.

It was reported earlier that HAL is facing a severe liquidity crunch as the company's cash in hand has sunk to just Rs 1,000-odd crore as of the end of October last year. Delays in the disbursement of budgetary allocation is a major reason why the government-owned HAL is struggling to maintain its cash levels.

The company also said its belated tweet on a Sunday night was in response to "the various media reports on HAL".

The defence aerospace major, however, did not mention from whom or which bank the overdraft was taken and for what purpose.

Company's clarification

The company's clarification on its cash crunch is the wake of a media report in a national newspaper on Friday that it had borrowed nearly Rs 1,000 crore "to pay salaries to its 29,000 employees".

rahul gandhi
Bengaluru: Congress president Rahul Gandhi interacts with the employees of the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), in Bengaluru on Oct 13, 2018. (Photo: )IANS

Earlier in the day, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman dubbed a tweet by Congress President Rahul Gandhi against her statement in the Lok Sabha on Friday on IAF orders to HAL "a lie".

Sitharaman's response came after Gandhi alleged through a tweet that she must either place documents before Parliament to prove her claim that the Modi government had given Rs 1-lakh crore worth of orders to HAL or resign.

Meanwhile, in a major development on Friday HAL said it will manufacture the weaponised version of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas for the Indian Air Force.

Though the central government allocated Rs.10,000 crore for HAL for the financial year 2018-19, the finance ministry disbursed only 40 percent till the end of October.

The loss of the Rafale fighter contract was another blow to HAL, which was already looking down the barrel, and was facing the prospect of stopping key design and development projects.

(With inputs from IANS)