By Yatish Yadav and Nardeep Singh Dahiya 02nd September 2012 12:00 AM
CGDA secret audit blows the lid off several other projects
Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE BANGALORE): In December 2010, a project for ‘additional development flight trials of Nirbhay’ was sanctioned costing Rs 18.1 crore . This was overlapping with an ongoing project codenamed Nirbhay sanctioned in 2004 at a cost of Rs 48 Crore.
“Old projects PDC has not been extended nor has it been successfully closed. The sanction of Rs 18.1 crore as a new project was inappropriate,” the audit said.
In one of its observation on the same project, the audit said “The case also raises questions on the way project proposals are put up for sanction. How original proposal to develop NIRBHAY exclude its trial? No research and development project can be sanctioned without inclusion of trial of the developed products.”
Integrated Arjun tank program was sanctioned to CVRDE in November 2010 at a cost of Rs 69.90 crore. However, several small projects have been sanctioned under ‘buildup’. Audit reports reveal that it was done to avoid going through competent financial authority, which is contrary to financial regulations.
DRDO sanctioned another project at a cost of Rs 28.35 crore while cabinet committee on security approved programme to develop NAG missile is still going on.
UAV Aerostat project
It was sanctioned by DRDO at a cost of Rs 49.82 crore by reducing the cost proposed by the lab (Rs 70 crore) so as to bring it just under Rs 50 crore, which is its sanctioning power.
Facility for Electro-Optical System Testing (FACET) was sanctioned at a cost of Rs 35 crore by DG DRDO to create a facility, which is essentially required to meet the objectives of an already sanctioned project. However, the old project’s cost was not revised with the approval of appropriate CFA.
Akash, NAG & Trishul missiles
The troika of integrated Guided Missile Development Plan (IGDMP) failed to fire after burning thousands of crore taxpayer’s money for almost 30 years. Akash which started in 1983 failed to meet requirements of army but after some hard bargaining Air force inducted it in its arsenal.
NAG, failed the 53rd test in August 2012. The project was started at an original cost of Rs 388.83 Crore in 1983, which was later revised to Rs 1,771.43 Crore. Indian army was forced to buy costly Javelin missile from USA in 2009 after DRDO failed to develop the project even after 29 years. After successive failures, Trishul was officially shelved in 2008. It is now reduced as a technology demonstrator by the DRDO.
The AGNI project was launched in 1983. The DRDO borrowed ISRO’s PSLV rocket to enhance firepower after it failed the initial tests before 1994. AGNI series of Missiles AGNI I and AGNI II with a range of 700 km and 2,500 km were inducted in the armed forces after successful tests. AGNI III with a range of 3,500 km is expected to be inducted in the army soon.
Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence in its report in March 2012 observed that the maximum range of the missiles that have been handed over to the army is 25 km only. Government in its reply to the committee had stated that the Indian army is currently in the process of procurement of advanced long range missile system and upgradation of certain existing weapon platform.
The LCA project, launched in 1983,is still waiting for final flight. The DRDO failed to develop promised indigenous engine even after spending over Rs 17,000 crore. It is expected to achieve the lasted deadline by December 2013.
Consider the three biggest projects: developing a Main Battle Tank (MBT), a nuclear-powered submarine, and an advanced Light Combat Aircraft (LCA). The MBT project was launched in 1974. But the tank has failed to meet service-requirement tests. It is reportedly too heavy and undependable to be used in combat. The Indian Army prefers Russian tanks and says it will use MBTs for training, not operations. The nuclear submarine project, launched 31 years ago, is not yet finished despite an estimated Rs 3,000 crore spent on it. The reactor is apparently ready, but not tested with the vessel’s hull.
The CAG in its annual report 2010-11 noted that government had already spent Rs 1,892 crore on Kaveri Engine development programme launched in 1986 to power the Light Combat Aircraft, Tejas. In 2005, the GTRE had indicated that it would not be able to develop the Kaveri engine on its own. Defence Minister AK Antony has told Parliament that the DRDO still has no time-frame to fully develop its Kaveri engine. He also said that the engine will be used in UAVs and marine applications.