‘Not at all satisfied’ with the way govt has been procuring bullet-proof jackets, says House panel
The parliamentary standing committee on defence has slammed the government for delaying purchase of self-protection gear such as bullet-proof jackets, helmets and shoes, despite sufficient local production capacities. Industry players also say the government is taking too much time to finalise tenders for bulletproof jackets.
In its report tabled in Parliament on August 13, the panel said it was “not at all satisfied” with the way the government has been procuring bulletproof jackets. Headed by Maj Gen (retd) BC Khanduri, the panel observed that “it is the duty of the government to provide proper gear to soldiers before sending them to counter-insurgency or war-like situations.”
Perturbed over the “more than six years” taken by the government to carry out the trials of the jackets, despite the Defence Acquisition Council’s (DAC) approval in October 2009, the committee criticised the ministry of defence for taking more than a year to carry out the trials.
The committee, asking to be apprised of the action taken to procure the jackets within two months, suggested that steps be taken to develop the industry in the country so that dependence on foreign sources can be minimised.
The Indian Army can hold a total of 353,765 BPJs, as per a government letter issued in March 2004. The Army currently holds 122,624 BPJs, and the October 2009 DAC approval was for procuring 186,138 BPJs, which will cater to the 12th Plan period ending in 2017.
Given the operational urgency, when Manohar Parrikar took over as a defence minister, he announced the emergency procurement of 50,000 new jackets. However, “The procurement process is underway after the government sanction and this will finalise soon,” claimed sources.
According to Neeraj Gupta, managing director, MKU Pvt Ltd, Kanpur, “We have participated in the RFPs released by the ministry of defence including the recent RFP for 50,000 bullet-proof jackets which is under evaluation by the technical team. ” MKU, a $40-million (R250-crore) turnover company, has been supplying arms to forces of NATO nations and the company is ready to meet needs of Indian armed forces.
The requirement for the 1.86 lakh jackets is still at the trial evaluation stage, with six vendors locked in competition.
Each jacket’s estimated cost was put at around R50,000 when the project was approved, making it a total of around Rs 930 crore. And these jackets were expected to be inducted by 2012, with a follow on order for another 1.67 lakh jackets.