Prateek Goyal=Monday, April 2, 2018, Sakal Times
Pune: PK Mehta, Director General of city-based Armament and Combat Engineering Systems (ACE), a Defence Research and Development Organisation establishment, and Major General Ajay Gupta, Director of Ahmednagar-based Vehicle Research and Development Establishment (VRDE) are facing allegations that they have misused their financial powers for sanctioning of fallacious defence projects costing Rs 93 crore.
A complaint was received by the Prime Minister Office and DRDO HQ, Ministry of Defence, about sanctioning of projects without project requirement from user – the Army in this case. The matter was reported by a serving officer of Indian Army to MOD and PMO.
The complaint letter dated March 11 states that the three defence projects were aggressively pursued by Gupta and sanctioned by Mehta in later half of 2017, without any requirement from the Army.
Corruption in DRDO
A highly placed source in DRDO lab, on condition of anonymity, told Sakal Times that the process of sanctioning of technology demonstration projects in DRDO has become very casual. The projects are being sanctioned without issuance of PSQRs from users’ (Army, Navy, Air Force) participation and requirement. He said, “It’s high time the Ministry conducts an enquiry in sanctioning of projects as there is lot of corruption going on in DRDO.
When Sakal Times contacted Mehta, he said, “Many a times, users are not aware of the technology so there are projects which are sanctioned without their requirement. It is sanctioned only after being reviewed by various experts. Even after the sanctioning, we have to look for the outcome, because in research and development there are chances that a project can be a failure.”
“Interest of nation is most important and we have to be independent in the manufacturing of defence projects and we are working on it under ‘Make in India’ programme of government,” added Mehta.
Despite repeated attempts to contact Gupta on phone and through texts, he was not available for comment.
KK Mishra, Joint Director (Retd), DRDO, said, “How can they sanction the projects without requirement from users. Defence projects are not some college projects one should remember that huge amount of money is invested in them. Participation of user is required before sanctioning of such projects. Many a times senior authorities sanction such projects for their own benefits. In past also people have sanctioned projects and gained monetary benefits from them.”
Defence expert Lt Gen DB Shekatkar (Retd) said, “It is surprising that a project has been sanctioned without requirement of user. For procurement of any armament or equipment for armed forces, user requirement is necessary. Such matters should be inquired into by Army headquarters.”