New Delhi: Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Thursday that her ministry is undertaking a major review of the role of ordnance factories.
Speaking an event to mark 90 years of the setting up of leading industry body FICCI, Ms Sitharamam said: “This may be a proper and suitable occasion to say that I am doing a major review of the ordnance factories, to make sure we understand where they are, what is it that they have to be given, are they going to be in a position to be joint venture partners for people trying to benefit from transfer of technology… so OFBs (ordnance factory boards) are also being looked into.”
Tracing its origin to British India in 1787, the ordnance factories are the oldest and largest organization in India’s defence industry where 41 factories are divided into five verticals—ammunition and explosives; weapons, vehicles and equipment; materials and components; armoured vehicles; and ordnance equipment. The 41 OFs are under the administrative control of the OFB which is under the MoD’s department of defence production.
In February, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), in a stringent tone, had asked OFBs to furnish a report on their achievement from 2013 onwards. In 2013, OFBs could meet the targets on only 39 per cent of the items required by the Armed Forces.
The defence minister also said that her biggest priority is to ensure 100 per cent transparency in defence procurement while speeding up implementation of long-pending acquisition process.
Ms Sitharaman said her government has been encouraging the private sector to produce defence platforms for the armed forces, insisting that the recently-unveiled strategic partnership model is being implemented to support the domestic defence manufacturing.
The biggest compliance issue government is focusing on is to ensure 100 per cent transparency in defence acquisition, she said. The minister added that the ministry is going to support start ups in the defence sector.
The strategic partnership was unveiled nearly four months back under which domestic defence manufacturers can tie up with leading global defence majors to manufacture specific military platforms like fighter jets.