I ndian defense procurement, which had hitherto been steaming ahead via the fast track procedure for purchases is facing the prospect of delays due to the two-month long general elections slated to commence this month.
The uncertainty over orders for Indian security forces under the expedited mechanism of the Defense Procurement Procedure (DPP) declared in August last year has come about due to the declaration of the dates of the elections last month. “Ordinarily the Defense Acquisition Council (DAC) meets every month. The last time it met was on February 17. But it hasn’t met after that because the election schedule was announced early in March,” one source told StratPost.
StratPost was also informed this state of affairs is likely to last until the formation of the new government.
Under the DPP, the fast track procedure works in the case of items that are preferably ‘already in service or have been tried and evaluated or are available widely in the world or in service in defense forces or in the indigenous market for ready procurement so that the time required for evaluation is minimized’. The idea is also to formulate operational requirements keeping in mind the availability of required equipment in the world market or in service in foreign defense forces/indigenous market.
The Defense Minister AK Antony had explained the use of expedited procurement to the Rajya Sabha in February this year. “After Mumbai, we have to strengthen the Coast Guard and the navy,” he said, adding, “We have a 7,500 km coastline. The Coast Guard has been given the responsibility of guarding this. They need many items like aircraft and vessels. We are compelled to extend all support. We can’t wait three-four years (by following normal procedures),” the minister said.
Antony had also emphasized the use of this procedure only in urgent circumstances while ensuring transparency. “The last meeting of the DAC has cleared some requests. Still, we are examining this to ensure there are no loopholes, no misuse and no manipulation,” he said, also saying, “Urgency is necessary but transparency is also essential.”