What has happened?
- The defence ministry on Monday approved the grant of financial powers to the armed forces for emergency procurement of indigenous weapon systems and ammunition,
- In the backdrop of the continuing over two-year-long military confrontation with China in eastern Ladakh.
- The “new process” cleared by the Defence Acquisitions Council (DAC) was chaired by defence minister Rajnath Singh and attended by the three Service chiefs and defence secretary.
What the power entails?
- It entails “capital acquisitions” from domestic sources on a fast-track basis.
- The entire acquisition process has to be completed within six months under this process.
- The upper limit for each contract is Rs 300 crore.
- The new process will cut down delays and help the armed forces plug operational deficiencies swiftly.
- The armed forces have to spend funds on the new acquisitions from their own budgetary allocation and they don’t have to take the defence ministry’s approval for these deals.
Is this the 1st time?
- The government had first delegated capital and revenue financial powers for a specified time to the Army, Navy and IAF,
- For “emergency and critical contracts” to build ammunition stocks and revenue financial powers for a specified time to the Army, Navy and IAF for “emergency and critical contracts” to build ammunition stocks and spares,
- In the aftermath of the Uri terror attack in September 2016, which had led to heightened tensions with Pakistan.
- The emergency powers were once again delegated to the armed forces after the multiple Chinese intrusions into eastern Ladakh in May 2020.
- Under a few extensions to those financial powers, the armed forces had then gone in for a large number of emergency procurements of weapons, supplies and spares from countries like Russia, Israel and France as well as from domestic sources.
So what our military did with this power?
- The defence forces have strengthened their preparedness through these acquisitions as the Indian Air Force and the Army received ‘Heron’ unmanned aerial vehicles,
- Which have now been deployed for surveillance in Ladakh as well as in the northeast for keeping an eye on Chinese activities.
- The forces have also got missiles which can hit ground targets from long ranges.
- The Rafale fighter jets have also received a boost with the induction of the HAMMER missiles which can hit hardened ground targets like bunkers from a long distance.
- The Army and the IAF also used these powers to strengthen their small arms as the Sig Sauer assault rifles have been inducted into all three forces now.
- Indian armed forces extensively utilised the emergency procurement powers granted to them in different phases by the government to equip themselves with the necessary weaponry to handle any conflict or aggression by enemies on both sides.
- The Army alone had inked 71 capital procurement contracts (worth Rs 6,918 crore) and 113 revenue procurement deals (Rs 9,000 crore) under those emergency powers.
But why now?
- The armed forces have a long list of equipment to buy and will use the powers to buy indigenous manufactured products.
- The powers are being granted to the defence forces again by the government at a time when China is showing aggressive manoeuvres on the Taiwan front and holding multiple missile firings and indulging in display of strength in the region.
- On the other hand, Pakistani agencies are also trying to carry out operations along the maritime border with India near the Gujarat coast.
Q) Which one of the following force is under the control of the Ministry of Defence?
- Indo-Tibetan Border Police
- Rashtriya Rifles
- National Security Guard
- Sashastra Seema Bal