The Defence Research and Development organisation, country’s premier body for development of defence related technology, has allegedly spent crores of rupees in the name of expenditure on technology, but there has been no positive outcome.
A top secret audit of DRDO ordered by Defence Minister AK Antony has revealed that there is virtual lack of transparency in decision making mechanism in the organisation, which was created to look after country’s defence needs. With a budget of over Rs 10,000 crore DRDO has enjoyed full mandate from successive governments for over six decades.
The audit accessed by CNN-IBN reveals that financial sanctions are being split so that they don’t have to go to higher authorities. Programme for development of main battle tank Arjun was sanctioned at Rs 69.99 crore. However, the entire programme was split into smaller sub-heads so that higher ups within the system could be avoided.
The fact that projects under DRDO have been delayed extensively is well known. Now the report also raises questions about how the DRDO is taking decisions.
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 similar programme was still in the pipeline.
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.
The report further says that 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.
However, the defence minister has refused to react to these findings.
On the other hand the DRDO has refuted the allegations.
“DRDO strongly refutes observations made in the report and is in the process of compiling its responses despite the fact that the findings of audit already stand vitiated. Since laid down procedure was not followed and the report was issued without authorisation, the matter is under examination and correspondence with the concerned. All laid down procedures are being followed by DRDO in a transparent manner and interests of the State are the sole consideration during the process of decision making,” said DRDO Director Ravi Gupta.
Now through this report questions are being raised about how DRDO is taking decisions.