Instead Of 16, DRDO Took 17 To 569 Weeks To Submit Proposals For 29 Projects: CAG Report
According to the report, there were significant delays ranging from 29 to 577 weeks in obtaining the Secretary, Department of Defence (R&D) sanction after submission of the receipt of user requisition
Due to delays of up to 569 weeks by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in submitting project proposals, the Indian defence forces were forced to import critical military technologies or go without them, according to a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).
The DRDO is in charge of developing technologies and weapon systems to aid in military readiness.
“Of the 75 ongoing projects, Audit examined 40 of them... The audit found ‘abnormal delays’ in the initiation of project proposals as well as project sanctioning in 31 projects,” according to the report titled “Management and Outcome of Mission Mode Projects in the DRDO,” which was tabled in Parliament last week.
Mission Mode (MM) projects are high-priority projects with a definite completion date that are based on specific user (Army, Navy or Air Force) requirements.
In contrast to the prescribed period of 16 weeks for the formulation of an integrated project proposal, the DRDO took 17 to 569 weeks to submit proposals in 29 projects, which had a cascading effect on project sanctioning, according to the report.
Furthermore, there were significant delays ranging from 29 to 577 weeks in obtaining the Secretary, Department of Defence (R&D) sanction after submission of the receipt of user requisition.
The delays caused “changes in the technology to be used, user import of the said items, and non-availability of the required item with the users,” according to the report.
Air Headquarters, for example, had to import 2,000 cartridges in July 2014, despite having projected requirements to Armament Research & Development Establishment (ARDE) — DRDO's laboratory — for the development of these cartridges six years earlier.
In July 2008, Air Headquarters projected to ARDE the need for Cartridge 0.5 inch (12 LL/195) development as a replacement for imported cartridges, with a one-year delivery schedule. The ARDE, on the other hand, took five years to analyse the method of developing indigenous cartridges before sanctioning the project in March 2014 at the cost of Rs 0.70 crore.
The project was declared successful in July 2018 (expenditure: Rs 0.50 crore). Meanwhile, Air Headquarters imported 2,000 cartridges in July 2014, according to the report.
The CAG audit also discovered that the DRDO had begun new projects to develop certain products and technology that were already in production by the Ministry of Defence's Ordnance Factory Board (OFB).
The CAG has recommended that the DRDO develop its Annual Plan for MM projects in collaboration with the three services.
It has also suggested that the DRDO avoid delays in project proposal preparation to reduce the risk of technology and equipment becoming obsolete.