OFB dismisses reports on accidents due to poor quality ammunition

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In a letter to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi appealed for a rethink of the government’s decision on the corporatisation of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), while the OFB dismissed reports of several accidents between 2014 and 2019 due to poor quality ammunition manufactured by them and said it “does not accept the figures”.

“For the accidents between January 2015 to December 2019, where defect investigation has been completed, only 19% of the cases are attributable to OFB,” an OFB spokesperson said. Further, out of the total number of accidents where defect investigation has been completed, only 2% of the cases where casualties have been reported are attributable to the OFB, he stated.

As reported earlier, according to the Army’s internal data, between 2014 and 2019 there were 403 incidents due to poor quality of ammunition manufactured by the OFB, due to which the Army suffered 25 deaths and 146 injuries and also disposed of ₹960 crore worth of ammunition before the shelf life was complete.

The decision of the government to corporatise the ordnance factories goes against the assurances given by the previous four Defence Ministers to the federations, Ms. Chaturvedi claimed. “It also goes against the statement of the government before the Parliamentary Standing Committee, which stated that, converting OFB into corporate entities is not a viable proposal, due to fluctuation of the requirement of the armed forces and also the ordnance factories have to maintain spare capacity as a war reserve,” Ms. Chaturvedi said in the letter. She added that she had received a representation from several workers’ federations that 99% of ordnance factory employees had rejected the government’s move to corporatise them.

Other ammunition accidents

Between 2011 and 2018, there have been more than 125 accidents involving ammunition procured from sources other than the OFB, both domestic and foreign, the OFB spokesperson said, stating that only cases where OFB ammunition was involved were being selectively reported.

“It must be emphasised here that most of these accidents involve vintage ammunition manufactured prior to 2006, when inspection of all input materials was undertaken by the Director General Quality Assurance (DGQA) and OFB had no control over the quality of input material,” the spokesperson said. In fact, after 2005-06, when the responsibility for inspection of input material was given to the OFB, there had been a decrease in the number of accidents, he said.

Since 2013, a system of advanced early user exploitation based on a random sample drawn from each freshly manufactured lot of ammunition was in place, in addition to the established schedule of inspection and validation conducted by the DGQA, the spokesperson said. “The quality of ammunition manufactured by the OFB is also amply testified to by the receipt of repeat export orders of ammunition supplied under self-certification,” he added.

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Printable version | Oct 23, 2020 5:42:19 PM |

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