Agreement with Russia on Assault Rifles: Rajya Sabha

Defence Industry

New Delhi: A contract for procurement of quantity 6,01,427 Assault Rifles AK-203 was signed on December six  between Ministry of Defence and M/s Indo-Russian Rifles Private Limited (IRRPL)- a Joint Venture established between India, represented by the Defence PSUs-Advanced Weapons and Equipment India Limited (AWEIL) and Munitions India Limited (MIL) and Russia, represented by Rosoboronexport (RoE) and Concern Kalashnikov (CK), in the share holding of 50.5% and 49.5% respectively. These rifles will be produced by M/s IRRPL at Korwa, Uttar Pradesh, Rajya Sabha was told.

In response to another question, Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt said in the last five years, a total of 194 Industrial Licenses have been issued to private companies in Defence sector for manufacturing of items like ammunitions, artillery guns, howitzers, air defence guns, UAVs, destroyers, frigates, night vision devices, ballistic protection items, radars, opto-electronic devices etc. License to manufacture defence equipment is granted by the licensing authorities namely, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) and Ministry of Home Affairs under Industries (Development & Regulation) Act and Arms Act respectively, in consultation with Ministry of Defence.

To another query, he said  5,601 instances of Cease Fire Violations (CFVs) were reported along the LoC with Pakistan which is under operational control of Indian Army in Jammu and Kashmir from November 30, 2019 to  November 29, 2021. Troops deployed on forward posts enjoy complete freedom of action in responding to Pakistan Cease Fire Violations (CFVs). Substantial damage was inflicted on Pakistan posts and personnel during retaliation by the Indian Army.

To another question, the Minister said to enhance functional autonomy, efficiency and unleash new growth potential and innovation in Ordnance Factories, the production units of Ordnance Factory Board have been converted into seven  Defence Public Sector Undertakings with 41 units, with effect from October One, 2021.

With professional management, functional and financial autonomy and more accountability, this restructuring is aimed at transforming Ordnance Factories into productive and profitable assets, enhance competitiveness and improving efficiency, he  said.

To another question, the Minister said the Government has taken several steps towards stress amelioration amongst troops, which, inter-alia, include deployment of trained psychological counsellors, improvement in the quality of food and clothing, training in stress management, provision for recreational facilities, buddy system, leave concessions, approachability of seniors, facilities for movement of troops from border areas and establishing a grievance redressal mechanism at various levels. Financial assistance has also been provided to wards of Armed Forces personnel killed in action.

He said a number of steps have also been taken for redressal of grievances of Ex-Servicemen in the form of Defence pension adalats, Veterans Day, RTI Cells, CPGRAM Cells.

 Adequate steps have also been taken to increase the funding to Armed Forces Flag Day Fund which is used for the welfare and assistance to Ex-Servicemen. Financial assistance of Rs 133.31 crore to 37,815 beneficiaries was given under various schemes in Financial Year 2020-21. In addition, scholarship has been awarded to 10,268 beneficiaries in Financial Year 2020-21. The additional ex-gratia amount has also been enhanced from the existing Rs 2 lakh to Rs 8 lakh for all Battle Casualties except Battle Casualties with disability less than 60% where the amount has been enhanced from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 4 lakh per casualty.

In reply to another question, the minister said Tejas is not being inducted as a replacement of MIG-21 fighter aircraft, but as a part of modernisation of IAF.

The amount spent so far on the manufacture of 24 LCA Tejas delivered till September 30 last  was Rs 6,653 crore. Considering the contract with HAL by IAF, a total of 123 Tejas fighter aircraft are to be manufactured.