By Pradip R Sagar Published: 29th December 2014 05:59 -Indian Express
NEW DELHI: The DRDO has refused to give out any information regarding making of a ‘chariot’ for a religious function.
The Express, in its report on dated 23 November, had exposed that a Pune-based DRDO laboratory Research and Development Establishment (Engineers) had developed and donated a hi-tech chariot to a temple.
This shocking piece of information came out after a young scientist of the same laboratory decided to rebel against this absurd venture and moved the Bombay high court and even the CVC. The DRDO developed the hi-tech chariot and ‘donated’ it to Alandi Temple, Pune.
The young scientist had to pay for raising his voice. The DRDO has not only stripped him off from the ongoing projects, but also transferred him out from the centre, where he is being left to waste.
A day after the Express report, a former DRDO scientist moved an RTI to the Ministry of Defence for seeking details of the government sanction to the DRDO for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and allocated budget for the same.
But on December 18, the R&DE (Engineers), in its reply to the RTI, had stated, “The DRDO is placed in Second Schedule of the RTI Act, 2005 and exempted from disclosure of information under Section 24(1), except information pertaining to the allegations of corruption and human right violations.”
The Section 24(1) of the RTI Act exempt security and intelligence agencies specified in the Second schedule to disclose such information. “This information, which I have asked for, has nothing to do with the national security and intelligence framework. But, the DRDO is using this as a shield to suppress information related to corruption in the organisation,” the scientist (identity withheld) told Express, who filed the RTI in the matter.
Dr. S Guruprasad, Director of the R&DE, Pune, had told Express that they had built this battery operated chariot in an year’s time and the DRDO had carried out the project under the head of the CSR. R&DE Pune has a mandate to design and develop Combat Engineering Systems, such as Military Bridging and Mine Warfare Systems, development of Field Defence Systems and NBC Collective protection Shelters, design and development of Weapon Launch System such as Prithvi, Agni, BrahMos, AD, MR-SAM and Nirbhay.
While numerous DRDO projects such as the Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, Nag missile, long-range surface-to-air missile and Airborne Early Warning and Control System have been delayed, and have cost much higher than their original estimates, expenses on such a ‘religious’ project have raised many eyebrows.