HEMRL: Audit report raises security doubtsPranav KulkarniTags : JCDA, HEMRL, DRDO lab, Haridwar Singh Posted: Sun Jul 24 2011, 02:44 hrs Pune The Local Audit Objection report, a JCDA questions contract to Viswaat Chemicals without seeking explosives handling licence. An audit report by the Joint Controller of Defence Accounts (JCDA) has raised questions about the security and tender awarding processes at High Energy Material Research Laboratory (HEMRL), a DRDO lab.
copy of which is with The Indian Express, has questioned HEMRL’s logic of awarding explosive handling contract to Viswaat Chemicals Pvt Ltd under Government Owned Company Operated (GOCO) contract, without asking the company to submit the requisite explosive handling licences. The report also pulls up the contractor for not maintaining entry and exit records of 173 contract manpower during the contract period.
Viswaat Chemicals has been producing a sensitive explosive (HEMRL claims India is only the third country in the world to possess it) at the HEMRL facility. According to the Explosives Act, 1884, producing an explosive handling licence is an important part of the tendering process mandatory for manufacturing and handling explosives.
The Local Audit Objection Report submitted by the Joint Controller of Defence Accounts (JCDA) six months ago refers to a letter numbered HEMRL/MMD/3044/SRP 09-10/34 and dated February 2, 2010 under which the contractor was asked to submit the licence for handling explosives and for the operation of propellent facility.
Former director of HEMRL Haridwar Singh is the director of Viswaat Chemicals.
Scientist G, HEMRL, Dr Bikas Bhattacharya said, “The requirement of the licence was mentioned in the tender specifications. They were to handle explosives for various facilities of the same organisation, HEMRL, because of which licence was not asked. There has been a communication gap and they have the necessary documents. Subsequent reply has been sent to JCDA.”
Manager, R& D, Viswaat Chemicals, S A Borkar said, “We have the licence, however, at the time of the audit, it was submitted for renewal because of which it might not have been seen by the auditors.”
The report also pulls up HEMRL for lapses in security saying, “As per clause 12 of MOU, the contractor has to provide 173 workmen. On scrutiny of the documents, it is revealed that no uniform system exists for maintaining the attendance by the lab for the deployed manpower.”
HEMRL security in-charge Colonel Alok Mathur said, “The system to ensure security checks is in place irrespective of whether the person entering is a scientist or a contract worker.” Bhattacharya said, “Besides normal working hours, there are overtimes during processing campaigns. We have replied to the auditors and they are satisfied with our reply.”
As per the contract, the laboratory agreed to purchase the explosive produced by Viswaat Chemicals at Rs 11,000 per kg. Between November 2007 and December 31, 2010, the laboratory purchased 1,500 kg of explosive from Viswaat Chemicals for Rs 1.7631 crore, including VAT and excise duty. The objection report points out why the laboratory paid additional Rs 11.31 lakh to Viswaat as VAT and excise duty when the production activity of TATB has been undertaken inside the HEMRL campus. “In view of this, the amount paid to the tune of Rs 11, 31,328 may be recovered and remitted into the treasury under intimation audit,” the report said. “We have sent the replies and the case will be settle in a month or two,” said Bhattacharya.