Defence Ministry again Extends Emergency Powers
Amid tensions with China at the LAC, the Defence Ministry also stressed on the need to strengthen the existing procurement processes instead of frequently invoking emergency powers.
The Defence Ministry has once again extended the emergency powers accorded to the Army, Navy, Air Force and the Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) for urgent revenue procurements and works amid continuing tensions with China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, even as the ministry emphasised strengthening the existing rules of procurement, News18.com has learnt.
According to defence sources, emergency powers for revenue procurements through fast-track process have been extended for three more months till December 31. This is the third extension of emergency powers granted for revenue procurements since last year when they were first invoked. While they were first extended till March from December last year, they were again extended till August this year.
No extension was, however, granted to the emergency powers accorded to the three services for capital procurements.
As per top defence sources, the ministry has also stressed on the need to strengthen the existing procurement processes under the Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) for capital procurements and Defence Procurement Manual (DPM) for revenue procurements, instead of frequently bringing in emergency powers for urgent procurements.
“In fact, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has sought further fine-tuning of all rules for capital and revenue procurements,” a defence source said.
The emergency revenue procurement powers were delegated under the respective Army, Navy, Air Force and Integrated Defence Staff Schedule of Powers under the revised Delegation of Financial Powers to Defence Services (DFPDS-2021) unveiled by Rajnath Singh in September this year.
This will give the vice-chiefs of the three services and the chief of the Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (CISC) emergency powers to procure ammunition, vehicles, stores, specialised services as well as equipment and machinery of up to Rs 500 crore for different exercises and operations.
“The long procurement process will be cut short under the emergency powers, thus aiding faster procurement of spares and various other items required to maintain the assets deployed in the forward locations,” a source said.
The delivery period for such procurements will be within one year from the date of signing the contract.
A senior defence official explained that the service chiefs or the CISC will be authorising the equipment and their quantities to be procured under these powers based on operational requirements. “These powers will help the services meet the critical capability voids — essential in the backdrop of tensions with China — and help in faster signing of the contracts which are in the advanced stages of procurement,” the official said.
A second defence official said that the service headquarters were also told to provide the list of items they had sought to procure under these powers to the Department of Military Affairs, including the details of the contracts signed and the deliveries received.
Additionally, Rajnath Singh was also given a presentation last month by the services over what has been procured under the emergency powers, the items which are scheduled to be procured and the various cases of delays in procuring certain critical items.
MAJOR PROCUREMENTS AMID LAC STANDOFF
While capital procurements refer to purchase of capital assets, weapons or weapon systems and other critical equipment, revenue procurements include purchase of ammunition and spares to keep these assets running.
The Defence Ministry, for the first time, had given emergency capital procurement powers to the three services for procurements of up to Rs 300 crore after the Galwan Valley clashes last year, even as emergency powers for revenue procurements were granted to them after the Balakot airstrike in February 2019 and the Uri surgical strike in 2016.
As per sources, a number of spares and other essential items have been bought under the emergency powers, much of it for the construction of habitat, roads and bridges in eastern Ladakh.
Anti-drone systems, another set of Highly Agile and Manoeuvrable Munition Extended Range (HAMMER) air-to-ground precision-guided weapon system for Rafale fighter jets feature among the capital procurements made using emergency powers.
Man Portable Air Defence System (MANPADS), a set of Israeli SPICE bombs and Heron drones, and T-72 and T-90 main battle tanks’ ammunition were other major capital purchases initiated.