AIDEF demands work worth 4-5% of the Defence Budget to Ordnance Factories


Statement by Shri C. Srikumar, General Secretary, All India Defence Employees Federation (AIDEF)


Before I say my views as a trade union representative of the Defence Civilian Employees, let’s analyse what the Defence Minister has commented on the Budget. The Raksha Mantri stated that the Union Budget 2023-24 is growth oriented and that the non-salary revenue outlay of Defence Budget has been enhanced significantly from Rs 62,431 crores in 2022-23 to Rs 90,000 crores in 2023-24 representing a 40% jump. This expenditure is mainly to equip the armed forces fully including military reserves, etc. It’s also stated that recognizing the crucial role of research, innovation and technological development towards capacity building of the Armed Forces and as well as India’s mission of Aatma Nirbhar Bharat.

Now let me say that all these statements look to be attractive. But what’s the reality. Ordnance Factories are war reserves. How this 220 years old war reserve is neglected in the Budget. Post Corporatisation of the Ordnance Factories no handholding as assured by the Govt is taking place. The Government said after Corporatisation the Ordnance Factories will reach Rs. 30,000 Crore turnover. How it will reach?

When more than 50% of the Factories are suffering without workload. The Armed forces are given free hand to procure all its requirements from private sources through tender ignoring Ordnance Factories. Armed Forces have now started floating tender and has stopped placing fresh indent to the Ordnance Factories. AIDEF has placed a very reasonable demand that from the Defence Budget every year allot 4 to 5 % of the Budget worth work to the Ordnance Factories. The Government will get it back as Products/equipment worth of the allocation. We are not demanding any grant or Subsidy from the Government. Give us work and workforce will produce and give back to the Country.

After all who is the owner of these Factories, it’s the Govt. and it’s the primary responsibility of the Govt. to fully utilize the available capacity in the Ordnance Factories. How can the Government permit the armed forces to ignore Ordnance Factories and to favour private industries. Who will come to the rescue of the Country during war and emergent situations? It’s always the Ordnance Factories and not the private sector. Army has got so many bitter experiences with private sector. Senior army officers always say in confidence that they are more comfortable with the Ordnance Factories than the private sector due its reliability, quality, timely delivery, highly competitive workforce and innovative skill as a solution provider. But unfortunately, the decision makers in the South Block are not ready to accept this reality.

We will continue to impress upon the Govt. that the Ordnance Factories should not be treated like beggars. They have got every right to demand their due share from the Budget not as subsidy or grant but as work and Govt. should allot 4 to 5% from the Defence Budget in the form of work.

The soldiers are happy with the products of Ordnance Factories, then who is unhappy with the Ordnance Factories. Only vested interested parties for whom Ordnance Factories are a stumbling block. They succeeded in Govt. declaring more than 270 OFB products non-core and splintering the Ordnance Factories into 7 Corporations. Now they are influencing the Govt. to not provide work to Ordnance Factories. During Covid-19 crisis, only the Ordnance Factories and its Employees worked day and night to supply the so called non-core items to the front line warrior’s to fight the pandemic.

We demand that at the outset the Govt. should withdraw the order declaring 270 products of Ordnance Factories as non-core and place full work to the Ordnance Factories, withdraw Corporatisation and accept the alternative proposals given by the Federations. On the one side, the Indian Army has registered the new Army Uniform design under the Patent Act to prevent misuse of the army uniform by unscrupulous elements and on the other side floated tender to procure the army uniform from private sector. Time has come for an introspection by the Defence Ministry.

Nation’s security cannot be taken lightly. Even now it’s not too late. Our proposals for strengthening Ordnance Factories, DRDO, Army Base Workshops, MES, Ordnance Depots, Naval Dockyards and to maintain the well trained competitive skilled workforce should be dispassionately and judiciously considered by the Govt. to really achieve the mission of Aatmanirbhara Bharat.



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