A CNN-IBN report on 13AUG12 criticizes the Defense Research and Development Organisation after it received a classified audit of the organisation ordered by Defence Minister AK Antony.
According to IBN, the audit revealed a lack of transparency in the decision making body and how financial sanctions from the government were being split to keep DRDO projects away from government oversight. For example, IBN pointed out that the development of the Arjun MBT, coming in at RS 69.99 crore, had its funds split into smaller dispersals.
In addition, there appears there may have been some issue with government waste as, “Product support and product improvement of NAG weapon system was sanctioned at a cost of Rs 28.35 crore, despite the fact that the Cabinet Committee on Security approved a similar programme.”
The CNN-IBN report goes on to show:
The cost of UAV and aerostat was brought down just to ensure that no higher authority could question the financial approval given.
Several split sanctions were also issued for renovation of DRDO Bhawan while unauthorised sanction of Rs 49.15 crore to develop vehicle testing facility from public accounts mainly for civilian use was also granted.
[A] project for development of satellite signal monitoring was sanctioned at a cost of Rs 29.96 crore without any formal requirement from the defence services. While the project was still on, a sanction of Rs 24.5 crore was given for procurement of a similar technology.
There have been several arbitrary costing of products under garb of development like sanction of Rs 14.5 crore for development of four stroke cylinder engine technology. But the parties chosen by the DRDO didn’t have adequate research capabilities. The report goes on to say that the DRDO has facilitated entry of foreign companies in certain areas and the projects being undertaken are not for development but for the entry of foreign vendors.
The report says that Dr VK Saraswat gave an improper approval for a grant of Rs 2.8 crore to a society which he heads himself. Further scrutiny even revealed that the body which got the aid didn’t have expert manpower.
Several irregularities have also been detected in appointment of chairpersons of different organisations with huge amounts being spent on it.
India has often been criticized for lacking an open and legitimate procurement process relating with defense matters. This recent report further indicates a greater need for accountability and government oversight, especially as India becomes one of the largest defense markets in the world.