The defence ministry has asked the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) to expedite the construction of four crucial defence manufacturing hubs following the tense border situation with China.
The department of defence production, under the defence ministry, has asked CPWD to expedite the completion of work at Ordnance Factory Board’s three manufacturing hubs at Khamaria (Madhya Pradesh), Bhandara (Maharashtra) and Trichy (Tamil Nadu). The three units are planned for indigenous production of critical tank ammunition.
Due to an increase in tank ammunition, the defence ministry wants the three units functional by winter. In a letter to the secretary (housing and urban affairs), Durga Shankar Mishra, secretary (defence production) Raj Kumar has written, “Work at these units was supposed to be completed by June 2020 but is still pending. As you are aware of the current situation at our border areas, requirement of tank ammunition has increased and the above projects need to be completed by December 2020 for timely supply of ammunition.” Apart from the three manufacturing hubs, the defence ministry has also red-flagged the slow pace of work at the Ammunition Factory Khadki (AFK) in Pune.
The premium manufacturing unit for small and medium calibre ammunition, which is the only unit supplying ammunition to the armed forces and paramilitary forces, has initiated revamp of its buildings. Usually the projects are undertaken through the Military Engineering Service (MES) but AFK had decided to carry the revamp work through CPWD for speedy completion.
AFK work had to be initiated by January 2020 and completed in a year’s time, by January 2021. However, the work has still not been awarded. According to sources, the defence ministry has once again raised this issue pointing out that though tender for the work was opened on August 3, the contract has not been awarded till date. “It is a matter of concern. It is understood that some delay could be due to Covid-19, but the situation was workable since June 2020,” the defence ministry has written in a letter to the CPWD director-general.