Centre Gives Nod To Already Cleared Program That Allows Pvt Companies To Manufacture Ammunition, Creates Confusion
In a much-precedented move and significant reform, the Ministry of Defence has allowed private industries to manufacture eight selected ammunition.
This came in an attempt to encourage the production and create more jobs as a part of Make in India initiative.
Earlier, the defense public sector undertakings and ordnance factories had exclusive rights for undertaking the production of ammunition, but this year in January the government had proffered a proposal which talked about the participation of Indian private Industries for the manufacturing of defense equipment through strategic partnerships.
The procurement of ammunition by various tenders had already been issued in March in the first quarter, but the bidding dates have kept extending again and again for at least six times.
However, Reliance Defence, Kalyani Group, Godrej & Boyce, smaller SMEs such as HYT Engineering, Premier Explosives and Continental Defence Solutions have shown interest in the two-bid tendering process.
Foreign firms that have been blacklisted for corruption charges will be technology partners with Indian companies.
What is the confusion?
The press release by the government by and large credits defense minister Nirmala Sitharaman for the step in the direction of Make in India in the defense sector while it was envisaged by Manohar Parikar.
Now that the defense ministry has approved private sectors to manufacture eight selected ammunition with the aim of developing indigenous capacity and reducing dependence on imports, this has taken the shape of sheer confusion.
As per the official Indian Army report, the tenders were already doled out in March this year and all the related details were shared with potential manufacturers.
This is where the confusion arises: If the tenders were already given in March, why is the government claiming it as a new development and crediting Nirmala Sitharaman for it?
In fact, according to the sources, the predecessor of Nirmala Sitharaman, Manohar Parrikar, had said that the defense ministry was working on the defense procurement process under the private sector and would be given orders for ten years.
Earlier this year in the second quarter, after the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) scrutinization, no significant improvements were reported in the availability of War Wastage Reserve (WWR) ammunition.
Furthermore, a parliamentary panel headed by Maj Gen (retd) BC Khanduron on Tuesday harshly criticised the government for the shortage of funds, repeated delays, and not fulfilling the budget demand.
The Logical Indian community demands transparency and a probe into the government’s action for wasting citizens money and delaying things beyond the normal. Propagating an old program as ‘new development’ is not sheer recklessness but an attempt to gain brownie points or hide the government’s incompetence.