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Trials of bulletproof jackets again come under scanner

The procurement of 59,000 bullet proof jackets for central police forces is under cloud for the second time following complaints of alleged violations of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in testing the jackets.



New Delhi: The procurement of 59,000 bullet
proof jackets for central police forces is under cloud for the
second time following complaints of alleged violations of the
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in testing the jackets.

Days before supply order of the jackets is scheduled to
be completed (by April 30), a particular vendor has written to
the Home Minister and senior Home Ministry officials to launch
an inquiry into alleged irregularities in testing of the
jackets and the "vindictive approach" of the testing
laboratory against it.

"As we have been witness to the trial process on our BPJ
samples, we will be able to show you the discrepancies if the
unedited photo and video recordings are viewed in
chronological order by the committee in our presence," the
vendor claimed in its letter as it refused to be identified.

The government yesterday informed the Lok Sabha that
there was a shortage of 8,71,21 bulletproof jackets in central
para-military forces like Assam Rifles, BSF, CISF, CRPF, ITBP,
SSB and NSG.

"The reason for the shortfall in BP jackets is due to
delayed finalisation of the current tender which was initiated
in July 2009," Minister of state for Home M Ramachandran told
the lower house.

It is expected that the supply order would be issued
within this month and supplies would be received in a
staggered manner over the next eight months, he said.

This is for the second time that the trials of the life
saving jackets for thousands of para-military jawans and
officials are coming under scanner.

The government had earlier cancelled the initial test
results in November last year after the "integrity of the
testing process had been vitiated by the activities of the
chief scientist of the Terminal Ballistic Research Laboratory
(TBRL)" in Chandigarh.

A re-trial of the life saving jackets was then ordered
under the instructions of Home Minister P Chidambaram and the
Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) under the chairmanship of
Director General Bureau of Police Research and Development
(BPRD) and a Tender Advisory Committee (TAC) under DG CRPF was
asked to maintain "strict vigilance and ensure scrupulous
adherence to the terms and conditions of the tender."

The testing process for the samples was completed by the
Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD) on March 31
this year.

The vendor has also written to the Director General of
the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) for his "personal
presence" during analytical analysis of the bullet proof
samples.

The vendor, in its letter, has claimed that the trial
team "who had manipulated the tests in the first trial" (which
was later scrapped) has been retained for current trials.

Only the Joint Director (chief scientist) of the earlier
trial was replaced from the team, the letter claimed.

Among the "violation of SOPs" listed by the vendor are
"use of heating blowers to heat the plasticine, use of faulty
chronograph and missing velocity readings of the bullets and
intentional puncturing of groin pads".

After receiving a preliminary consideration of the
complaints, the Home Minister had directed on December 23 last
year that the tender process shall be stayed and that the
price bids shall not be opened until further orders.

PTI

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