Dangerous privatization of Defense on the way??

Will Ordnance Factory at Ambazari be on the chopper’s block soon!

The Ordnance Factory at Nagpur was mooted in 1962 and set up 1964 onwards making it over 58 years old. It not only makes hardware for ammunition ( like the Bofors shells) but comprises of Training activity also. One of the 41 Ordnance factories of India, it is ( was?) one of the largest employing over 10,000 workers just few years ago.

Today, its strength is do
wn to 3000, exactly 1/3rd.

In 2016 – 2017 it had work orders of Rs 1200 crores. Today its orders have dwindled to Rs 360/ crores only whereas it has a capacity to manufacture material worth Rs 1000 crore minimum.

Complains Sudarshan Meshram, a JCM 4 ( Co coordinator between workers and Management) ” even to fulfill this meager order, we are not being given required raw material or tools. They want us to fail in meeting this target also so this work will also be snatched away from us.” A case of calling the dog mad before shooting it?

BUT WHY ‘KILL’ A VALUABLE GOVERNMENT ASSET WHICH IS ALSO KEY TO NATION’S DEFENSE?

To benefit ” friends” in the private sector of course!

Steps have already been taken in this direction. The Apex body overseeing the 41 Ordanance factories of India and training centers too has already been dissolved by the Parliament Friday, 18th June 2021. The Notification will come shortly.

This was done over the protests of the 3 Trade Unions that represent 80,000 workers. One association BPMS even has RSS backing. A fourth union, yet to be recognized called AIBDEF ( All India Bahujan Defense Employees Union) is also ready to fight tooth and nail against it.

The unions, guessing government’s intentions were ready to go a national strike last year only but the Chief Labour Commissioner CLC asked for a year’s time to do mediate.

In 2nd week of June the CLC declared that their efforts had failed and immediate action of dissolving the Ordnance Factory Board based in Kolkatta was dissolved.

” Its a policy decision of the government ” was the curt reason given for failure of negotiations

THE ORDNANCE FACTORY BOARD WAS IMPORTANT ENOUGH TO BE CONSIDERED THE 4th Wing of the Army.

Ironically, the beginnings of this board were set up by the British rulers; in fact the East India Company which realized the importance of having arms and ammunition manufactured in the Indian subcontinent. The precursor to the Board was set up in 1775 itself. This makes the Ordnance industries of India even 100 years older than Indian Railways or other vital sectors set up by the British.

Of the 41 Ordnance factories, many were set up by British. The OFB in its official website proudly claims to be the Force behind the Army, Navy & Airforce.

CORPOROTIZATION WAS THE NEED IF THE DAY?

Many Committees over the years had suggested restructuring. Now officially 7 PSUs will be set up and the 41 O factories divided between them. For better functioning, ostensibly.

BUT THE TRADE UNIONS FEAR THAT PRIVATIZATION IS THE REAL OBJECTIVE

Is this fear unjustified?

Look at what has happened to the manufacture of the PINACA MISSILE designed by arby’s own R&D and which was to be partly manufactured by Ambazari O. F?

A bulk of the order, along with technology and know how has already gone to Private sector industry Solar Industries based in Bazargaon, near Nagpur.

Say office bearers of various trade unions that ‘ for the first time an entire missile will be manufactured and assembled under one roof, that too by a Private company!

” We had struct protocol that no factory handled the whole ‘product’ Different segments were made at different factories and assembled in a different factory.

Other safety systems are also very rigid. Thorough counting and checking is done of each bullet, each casing even 100 gms of RDX kind explosive material.

” Will private industries be amenable to such strict audits or answerable if material made by them got in the wrong hands?”

IT’S BEGINNING TO HAPPEN ALREADY.

Editor, N.T.