Developments along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh have added to the ongoing legacy challenges on India’s active and disputed borders on the western and eastern front, Chief of the Army Staff General Manoj Naravane said on Thursday. According to him, such incidents will continue till such time a long-term solution is reached, which is to have a boundary agreement.
“The unprecedented developments necessitated large-scale resource mobilisation, orchestration of forces and immediate response, all this in a COVID-19 infested environment,” he stated, referring to the stand-off with China that began last May.
Gen. Naravane was speaking at the annual session of the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
He noted that there was an outstanding border issue with China. “We are well prepared to meet any misadventure that may occur as we have demonstrated in the past. Such kinds of incidents will continue to occur till such time a long-term solution is reached- that is to have a boundary agreement. That should be the thrust of our efforts so that we have lasting peace along our northern borders,” he stressed.
Referring to issues in defence procurement, he observed that with the cycle of new and disruptive technologies getting shorter and faster, avoiding technological obsolescence remained a big challenge.
“The danger that our long-drawn procurement processes and bureaucratic speed-breakers would prevent us from acquiring cutting edge technology is a real one,” he pointed out. Much work had been done to bring about systemic changes with the aim of ease of doing business. “This however remains a work in progress. There are still archaic rules and processes that defy logic and are at variance to modern best practices. This needs to be addressed,” he urged.
In this regard, he referred to a recent initiative that gave “extremely positive results”, which was the invoking of emergency powers under the Delegation of Financial Powers to Defence Services (DFPDS)-2020 for emergency procurement that was initially invoked in June last year till March 31 this year and subsequently extended till August.
Under this, 113 contracts for revenue procurement of operationally critical ammunition, armament, vehicles, spares and special mountaineering equipment for almost ₹9000 crore were concluded. Another 68 contracts for capital procurement were inked for about ₹6,500 crore. During the conclusion of these contracts, savings of about ₹1700 crore was accrued due to the diligence and financial prudence of the emergency empowered committee at the Service headquarters’ level, he remarked.
Contracts were signed within a year with another year for the deliveries to commence. The system had been a win-win combination for the industry and the user. “The recommendation from the industry to institutionalise it as the standard system for all procurements and not just the emergency procurement, therefore, has merit,” he added.