Friday, June 24, 2022

OFB employee unions allege irregularities in consultant selection for corporatisation

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New Delhi: The employee unions of Ordinance Factory Board (OFB) have approached the President of India, seeking his intervention in the alleged irregularities in the Request for Proposal (RFP) floated by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). The MoD has floated an EoI-cum-RFP to appoint a consultant for corporatisation of ordnance factories. 

In its letter, which has also been sent to the Prime Minster and Defence Ministry, the three employee unions of OFBs — All India Defence Employees Federation (AIDEF), Indian National Defence Workers Federation (INDWF) and Bharatiya Pratiraksha Mazdoor Sangh (BPMS) — have appealed the President to look into the allegations of irregularities. 

Moving ahead with its decision to corporatise Ordinance Factory Board, the government had invited EoI-cum-RFP from India-based consulting agencies on June 6 for assistance. As per sources, the bid is expected to open in the first week of August. 

Irregularities will have serious implications on national security: OFB employee unions 

The letter, a copy of which is with Defence Watch, said, “If the allegations made in the complaint to the CVC is true, then the officials of DDP have not done due diligence for use of public money and they have not adhered to Rule 21 of GFR 2017. Such officials have been entrusted with the responsibility of Corporatization of the Ordnance Factories. We are afraid that if this proceeds in this direction it will have serious implications about the future of the Ordnance Factories and the Defence preparedness of our Country.”

The letter further added, “Our special appeal to the Hon’ble President is that since your honour is the supreme Commander of the 3 Forces, the Forth Force of Defence of our country i.e. the Ordnance Factories should also be under your control and the same cannot be handed to private corporate through the Corporatisation route.”

Speaking to Defence Watch, AIDEF General Secretary C Srikumar said, “Today we have sent a detailed representation to the Hon’ble President of India who is also the supreme commander of defence forces to look into the irregularities. We request his immediate intervention on this issue.” He also went on to add, “We have already given 11 representations to the President and hope that this time our issues will be addressed.”  

Gross irregularities in floating EoI-cum-RFP: Former OFB employees

The already controversial decision seems to have blown out of proportion with the latest allegations of regularities while floating EoI-cum-RFP. Former employees of OFB have filed a complaint with the CVC (Central Vigilance Commission), alleging that the procedure through which the Department of Defence Production (DDP) is inviting India’s reputed consulting agencies is not clear. Moreover, it alleged that the rules have been laid out to favour a ‘particular consultant.’ The complaint also raised serious questions on the capability of the Department of Defence Production (DDP) which is overseeing the entire process, to even formulate the correct terms of reference. 

In a letter to CVC, the complaint highlighted that the consultant's prequalification requirements do not address the consultant’s research capacity, which is one of the most important element for a successful project. The letter also said, “There is no clause to disqualify the consultant, who has demonstrated incapability to execute projects which were assigned to them and who were not capable of taking the project to a logical end for OFB. The EOI PQ norms flout the CVC guidelines. For an estimated value of contract ranging from Rs 1-2.5 crore, the turnover of the consultant demanded is Rs 50 crore. This has been done with a clear eye to favour some consultant while eliminating others.”

Besides, the letter questioned the capability of the consultant to evaluate OFB whose asset value is more than Rs 1 lakh crore. The eligibility criteria of the MoD’s RFP has mandated a consultant to have evaluated at least Rs.1,000 crore of assets. “Will the consultant who has evaluated Rs.1,000 crore be able to evaluate Rs.1,00,000 crore? Clearly, something is fussy,” it contended. 

(PSU Watch– India's Business News centre that places the spotlight on PSUs, Bureaucracy, Defence and Public Policy is now on Telegram. Join PSU Watch Channel in your Telegram and stay updated)

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