Report by Kamgar Ekta Committee (KEC) correspondent
When ordnance factories were corporatised in 2021, it was believed that the ultimate goal is to privatise them by turning them into sick enterprises. The process has now begun by depriving Ordnance Clothing Factories (OCFs) that come under the new company Troop Comforts Limited (TCL) of any order for army uniforms. The order for the entire lot of almost 12 lakh sets of army uniform is being given to 4 private firms. Despite the approval of the Defence Minister for placing 50% of the new uniforms to the TCL, the order has been given to private firms as they are ready to supply at a cheaper rate than the TCL.
The Army has recently switched from the ordnance factory designed army logo combat uniform to the NIFT designed digitally printed army uniform.
Now reports are coming out that the new army uniforms are available in the market, which is creating apprehensions in the minds of people as the uniforms could be used by anti-social elements. During the past few days Army Intelligence and local military authorities have raided many private textile shops where a large number of the newly designed army uniform cloth and stitched uniforms were found.
The All India Defence Employees Federation (AIDEF) which represents the employees of these Ordnance Factories protested against this and they have submitted innumerable number of representations. The AIDEF has been relentlessly fighting against corporatisation and privatisation of ordnance factories. The AIDEF has been fighting furiously for getting the orders of newly designed digitally printed army uniform to the four Ordnance Factories under TCL.
According to Shri C. Srikumar, General Secretary of AIDEF, in more than 125 years of existence of OCFs, not a single incident can be quoted where army uniforms have gone to the market from these factories. The army uniform is as important and strategic as ammunition, missiles, etc. He stated that terrorists and anti-nationals could use army uniforms for their attacks, since identically designed uniform is easily available in the market.
He informed that while the army uniform cloth is sold at Rs. 2400 in the CSD Canteen, the 4 private firms have taken the order for Rs.1571/ per set. When the cloth itself is sold at Rs. 2400 in the Army Canteen, how can the private firms supply stitched uniform for Rs 1571, he asked. They will definitely compromise the quality and the poor jawan will suffer.
OCF Shahjahanpur is more than 120 years old and OCF Avadi more than 60 years old. On the plea of getting cheap rate uniforms from the private firm the country’s security cannot be compromised, he said. For the continued existence of these 4 ordnance factories under TCL, it requires only about Rs 1200 Crore orders which the Army can afford and they will get world class troop comfort items in return.
Shri Srikumar has demanded that the Army in their own interest and interest of the country, should withdraw the order placed for uniforms with the private firms and hand over the same to the 4 ordnance factories under TCL.