A conspiracy to privatise Ordnance factories
Adani-Ambanis to capture the Ordnance Factories
The arms and ammunitions-bombs to the tanks were being manufactured in 49 Ordnance factories spread across the country for the last 220 years and nine PSUs were engaged in defence production with an annual turnover of Rs 52,000 crore. Now they have been corporatised with the ultimate aim of privatisation.
This subject is sensitive and related to national security, earlier it was guarded and it was not open to the public. However, the corporatisation of the ordnance factories has already been done by the BJP government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, this decision is viewed as a serious threat to national security.
The Union Government is on a privatisation spree and if all the ordnance factories are privatised, then the ownership of these factories will go to private players like Adani and Mukesh Ambani. Besides this, the country’s economy will also be in their hands.
The decision to corporatise the Ordnance Factories was taken based on the wrong advice from some bureaucrats. The government did this without any discussion with the stakeholders. The then Chairman of OFB Harimohan and the OF Board opposed the government decision and advised the government through a Board Resolution to not corporatise Ordnance Factories.
However, the government ignored the advice of the OFB. As a result, the defence preparedness of the country is at stake. The bureaucrats who are instrumental in these ill-conceived decisions are not in the ministry of defence now to face the ill effect of corporatisation. Ultimate sufferers are the soldiers and the 78000 employees and their families.
Basically, previous defence ministers- George Fernandes, AK Antony, Jaswant Singh, Arun Jaitley and Manohar Parrikar had opposed the move. Despite this, the decision to privatise Ordnance Factories was virtually foisted by the Modi Government.
Earlier the Ordnance Factories were controlled by the Ordnance Factories Board (OFB). However, now all these Ordnance Factories have been handed over to 07 private companies and they have already begun production.
Due to this decision, over 80,000 agitated workers of the Ordnance Factories across the country took to the streets. However, the government threatened to book them under the Essential Defence Service Act. The All India Defence Employees Federation (AIDEF) has challenged this decision in Delhi High Court. The Federation has also filed a petition in the Madras High Court against the privatisation of the Ordnance Factories.
The government’s game plan is now clear. First the government declared 257 products of Ordnance Factories as Non- Core and privatized those products. Then the Ordnance Factories were Corporatised. Now no work is given to many Ordnance Factories including the 4 Ordnance Factories under Troop Comfort Limited. Without maintaining its assurance to handhold the Ordnance Factories, the government has floated a tender only to favour a few selected private companies.
Army Uniforms are sensitive and strategic. Handing over the manufacturing of the uniform to the private sector is an ill-conceived decision. We have written letters to the Defence Minister. Even now we hope good wisdom in the interest of national security will prevail on the government and place the indent of 11 lakh Army Uniform manufacturing to 4 Ordnance Factories under TCL. The government cannot play with the life of 8000 employees including 2000 women Employees ” said C. Srikumar General Secretary of All India Defence Employees Federation.