NEW DELHI: The Defence Ministry has cleared the proposal to buy 7.40 lakh assault rifles for the three services and will also procure light machine guns worth Rs 1,819 crore. The Narendra Modi government has also cleared the proposal for the purchase of 5,719 sniper rifles for the Army at the cost of Rs 982 crore.
The Indian Army has been pressuring to fast-track the procurement of the weapons considering the threats from bordering Pakistan and China.
The long-pending proposals were cleared at a meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), the defence ministry's highest decision making body on procurement. The Defence Ministry said the DAC chaired by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman cleared capital acquisition proposals which were valued at Rs 15,935 crore.
It said the DAC accorded approval for procurement of 7.4 lakh assault rifles for the three services at an estimated cost of Rs 12,280 crore.
The rifles will be produced in India under the 'Buy and Make (Indian)' category through both state-run Ordnance Factory Board and private sector.
In a statement, the ministry said "essential quantity" of Light Machine Guns (LMGs) will be through the "fast track" route at an estimated cost of over Rs 1,819 crore, primarily to meet the operational requirement of the troops deployed on the borders.
"A concurrent proposal is being processed for the balance quantity to be procured under the 'Buy and Make (Indian)' categorisation," the ministry said.
The approval to the proposals come amid increasing hostilities by Pakistan along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir as well as China's aggressive posturing in several sectors along the nearly 4,000-km-long Sino-India border.
The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) had in January 2018 cleared the procurement of 72,400 assault rifles and 93,895 carbines worth Rs 3,547 crores to meet an immediate requirement of the troops deployed along the borders. The DAC had simplified 'Make-II' procedure, which prescribes guidelines to be followed to develop and manufacture defence equipment through Indian industry.
Considering that no government funding is involved in 'Make-II' project, the DAC had simplified the procedure to make it industry-friendly, with minimal government control. The salient aspects of the revised procedure allow MoD to accept suo-moto proposals from the industry and also allow start-ups to develop equipment for the Indian Armed Forces. The minimum qualification criteria to participate in Make-II projects has also been relaxed by removing conditions related to credit rating and reducing financial net worth criteria.
(With PTI inputs)