Defence projects worth Rs 83,000 cr to infuse new life to ‘Make in India’ initiative

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Make in India

The Defence Ministry has on Monday approved projects worth over Rs 82,000 crore for purchase of fighter aircraft, tanks, rockets and mini drones. A new blacklisting policy that will do away with blanket bans on companies indulging in corrupt acts has also been enacted. Over a year after the government promised a new Defence Procurement Procedure, or DPP, has also brought down the Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) validity to six months from earlier one year, which means that the forces will have to issue tenders faster.

The Defence Acquisition Council, chaired by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar did not, however, take a decision on the Navy’s proposal to purchase 12 US2I amphibious aircraft from Japan, though the issue came up for discussion. PM Modi is scheduled to visit Tokyo on November 11-12, during which that specific acquisition may come up for discussion.

The Defence Acquisition Council or the ‘DAC’ also gave the go-ahead to the Indian Air Force’s plans to purchase 83 Tejas Mark 1A aircraft at a cost of Rs 50,025 crores. The Mark 1A is an upgraded version of the existing LCA (Light Combat Aircraft) Mark 1, 40 of which have been delivered by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to the Indian air Force (IAF).

AoN was also accorded for the purchase of 15 Light Combat Helicopters being manufactured by HAL for the Army and Air Force for a tentative cost of about Rs 2,911 crore. These LCHs will be indigenously developed and will be a boost for the ‘Make in India’ initiative. Once the initial 15 prove themselves, the Defence ministry plans to acquire 95 more, reports ‘India Today’.

A repeat order of 464 Russian-origin T90 tanks, being manufactured by the Ordnance Factory Board in the Heavy Vehicles factory in Avadi, near Chennai, for Rs 13,448 crore, has also been placed. Ten regiments of these tanks will keep vigil on the Pakistan front.

Procurement procedures of 598 mini UAVs at a cost of Rs 1,100 crore have also been initiated. These drones will help our forces maintain situational awareness in close combat situations.

The last item in the kitty is the DAC’s clearance for the issuance of tender for six additional regiments of the ‘Pinaka’ rockets for Rs 14,633 crore. Each regiment consists of three batteries of six Pinakas and each Pinaka battery comprises six launcher vehicles, each with 12 rockets, six loader-replenishment vehicles, three replenishment vehicles, two Command Post vehicles with one standing by with a Fire Control computer, and the radar.

Road to cleaner transactions?

A major take-away from the DAC is the clearance of the new blacklisting policy, though Defence Ministry officials remained tight-lipped about the features of the new policy, maintaining it will be put up on its website in the next few days. Sources said it will ensure that while companies are dealt with harshly, it will not affect the modernisation process. This policy had been shelved for nearly two years. As per the new policy, the focus is on graded blacklisting and fines. This means that if a defence conglomerate is caught doing wrong in a particular project, it will be banned for a specific number of years from dealing in that particular segment only and no further; it can continue to pitch for projects in other segments.

“It will be a product specific ban rather than blanket blacklisting. Also, there will be an option for heavy penalties besides those in contract and even individuals can be banned,” a source said. The new policy would also allow many of the stuck programmes, like the heavy weight torpedoes for the Navy’s six Scorpene submarines, to move ahead with clarity. Only those companies that have been cleared by the CBI will be taken off the blacklist.”[SOURCE] “The DAC considered and approved the guidelines for suspension or banning of business dealings with entities,” a Ministry source said. Under the new DPP, a new category called the ‘IDDM’ or ‘Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured’ platforms has been created. This category, with at least 40 per cent indigenous content, will get top priority and will be first to be chosen for tenders. Under the new DPP, the Make-in-India category has been divided into three parts. One is 90 per cent government funded while the second is industry funded and third reserved for medium and small enterprises.

When implemented, these newer and more transparent procedural methods will encourage the world to “Buy Indian” category and issue tenders for the same.

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