Govt orders review, revamp of DRDO, forms expert panel
Posted: Fri Jan 19 2007, 00:00 hrs
NEW DELHI, JANUARY 18:
Rejecting the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO)’s assertion that its internal workings are adequately monitored, the Government has set up an independent and external committee of experts to conduct a comprehensive review of the DRDO and produce a report by the end of this year to suggest how the organisation be made more efficient and professional.
The dismal track record of the DRDO, highlighted by The Indian Express through a series of investigative reports in November last year, had found an echo in Parliament with Defence Minister A K Antony promising a new system of accountability to keep delays and cost over-runs in check.
The eight-member committee has been asked to conduct a thorough review of DRDO’s administrative, financial and personnel procedures and audits of scientific research work undertaken by the organisation’s laboratories. It will keep tabs on whether the interests of armed forces are being served, monitor time and cost overruns of weapons programmes, draw a roadmap for synergy with private industry and foreign consultants, and recommend strategies on utilising offsets that will now be part of all foreign weapons contracts.
Committee chairperson, Professor P Rama Rao, a former Secretary at the Department of Science & Technology and currently Dr Brahm Prakash distinguished professor at the ISRO, told The Indian Express from Hyderabad: “I will begin applying my mind on the task as soon as the government letter reaches me.”
The other committee members are former financial advisor at the Defence Ministry A K Ghosh, former HAL chairman Dr Krishnadas Nair, Samtel Group chairman Satish Kaura and Professor T P Ghoshal from Jadavpur University. The three representatives from the armed forces, all retired, are former DG Artillery Lt Gen C S Cheema, former IAF vice-chief Air Marshal Ajit Bhavnani and Vice-Admiral Pravesh Jaitly, formerly the Navy’s chief of materials.
With the creation of this committee, the Defence Ministry has finally acted upon a crucial recommendation made by the Vijay Kelkar committee almost two years ago, that DRDO’s functioning as a research body needed to be under the purview of a panel of independent experts.
The committee’s mandate is significant considering that the DRDO, last year told the Parliamentary Standing Committee on