MoD pitches for rail lines in border



New Delhi: Fast tracking the acquisition process, the Defence Ministry on Tuesday took a slew of decisions including one on procurement of combat aviation assets for the Indian Army on the lines of major powers in the world and pitched for setting up of railway lines in border areas.

The decision was taken at a meeting here to review various acquisition processes of the Army. It was chaired by Defence Minister AK Antony and attended by Army Chief Gen VK Singh, Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma and top brass of the force and the Ministry.

"For sprucing up combat aviation assets of Army, a decision was taken to set up a committee to study other modern armies of the world and their combat aviation assets. The committee will have members of Army and Air Force for the purpose," Defence Ministry officials said.

At the over 90-minute meeting, Antony also took stock of the infrastructure development projects in various areas.

"For development of infrastructure in border areas and faster movement of troops, the Defence Ministry has decided to request the Planning Commission for setting up 14 strategic railway lines for border and other areas," the officials added.

For northern areas, a decision was taken to set up an Empowered Committee under the Defence Secretary to go through the Detailed Project Report (DPR), they said.

The meeting reviewed the acquisition process of various artillery assets such as the Ultra Light Howitzers (ULH), Pinaka Multi Barrel Rocket Launchers (MBRL) and BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles for the Army.

"The Defence Minister was informed that the contract negotiations have been completed with vendors for setting up two regiments of BrahMos cruise missiles and Pinaka MBRL. He was also told that the trial of ULH has been completed," they said.

Antony expressed satisfaction over the progress of various projects for acquisition of artillery systems and asked for setting up of guidelines to expedite the pending cases, the officials said.

For Infrastructure development and habitat creation in border areas, the Ministry decided to sanction eight additional porter companies of mules to the Army. One porter company comprises around 100 mules.

To meet the requirement of the Special Forces, the Ministry decided to set up an Empowered Committee for purchase of equipment. It will be headed by the Army's Vice Chief and the Master General Ordnance (MGO) will be a member of it.

"The committee will be set up on the lines of the one for procuring equipments for troops operating in Siachen Glacier," officials said.

Today's meeting was the third one in a series of performance reviews by the Defence Ministry to assess the functioning of various departments and bodies and their acquisition processes.

Yesterday, Antony had reviewed the performance of Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and sanctioned Rs 15,764 crore for its modernisation and capacity augmentation.

On April 2, he headed a meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) and cleared the 15-year Long Term Integrated Perspective Planning (LTIPP) for the armed forces.

The LTIPP will project requirements of the armed forces to be met through indigenisation and involvement of the private sector.

Antony had also directed the armed forces to streamline their acquisition process to fix accountability in case of delay in procurement and any slippages.

PTI