Defence Boost: Ordnance Factories Under TCL Set for Revival with Rs 800 Crore Orders

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By DT News Desk

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Defence Boost: In a significant development, four ordnance factories under the Tata-controlled TCL (Tata Chemicals Limited) are poised to receive orders worth Rs 800 crore annually. This comes as a crucial lifeline for these factories, which were teetering on the brink of closure due to a meager workload of Rs 89 crore. The decision to allocate substantial orders to manufacture diverse military gear, ranging from combat uniforms to parachutes, is seen as a triumph for the All India Defence Employees Federation (AIDEF) and Bharatiya Pariksha Mazdoor Sangh, who tirelessly advocated for the factories’ revival.

Defense Boost: Ordinance Factories Under TCL Set for Revival with Rs 800 Crore Orders
Defence Boost: Ordinance Factories Under TCL Set for Revival with Rs 800 Crore Orders

Background and Advocacy:

Mukesh Singh, General Secretary of Bharatiya Immunity Mazdoor Sangh, and Sreekumar, General Secretary of AIDEF, played instrumental roles in highlighting the precarious situation of the ordnance factories. Their advocacy reached various echelons, with Mukesh Singh personally meeting Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to apprise him of the impending crisis. Sreekumar asserts that the renewed workload for TCL is a substantial victory for their organization.

Financial Boost:

Previously left with a meager workload of Rs 89 crore, TCL will now witness a significant upswing with a committed annual order of Rs 800 crore. This infusion of orders is slated to continue for the next five years, bringing much-needed stability to the ordnance factories. The move is a response to concerns raised by AIDEF about the intentional diversion of work from Ordinance factories.

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Attempts to Bypass Ordinance Factories:

In the recent past, Ordinance factories faced challenges as restrictive conditions were imposed during tenders issued by the Army, Air Force, and Navy for combat uniforms and related items. The stringent conditions were seemingly designed to exclude the ordnance factories under TCL from participating in the procurement process. AIDEF, through letters to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, raised objections to this practice, emphasizing the long-standing track record of Ordinance factories in supplying quality dress and equipment to the military.

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Implications for Ordinance Factories:

The move to award substantial orders to private companies instead of established Ordinance factories raised concerns among Defence employee unions. The assurance post-corporatization that these factories would receive a full workload seemed to be violated. The Ministry of Defence’s takeover of ordnance factories and subsequent financial and non-financial assistance were expected to provide support, but the commitment appeared unfulfilled.

Specific Cases of Bypassing Ordinance Factories:

Several tenders issued by different Defence departments, such as the Department of Military Affairs/Indian Air Force, showcased attempts to bypass the TCL Ordinance factories. Restrictive tenders for combat army uniforms and other garments, including the purchase of 11,70,159 Combat Army Uniform Digital Prints, were notable instances where participation by TCL factories was constrained. Similarly, tenders for 3,48,400 Samagra (Ground Crew) were issued without a direct indent to TCL, despite its proven track record in supplying garments to the satisfaction of the Indian Navy.

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Employee Sentiments:

The alleged step-motherly treatment meted out to these factories has left over six thousand Defence civilian employees, including two thousand women employees, feeling neglected. The unions appeal to the Defence Minister to issue supply orders to the TCL ordnance factories and eliminate the perception of discriminatory treatment. The employees stress the need for giving demand letters to these factories to quell the prevailing sentiments of neglect.

The recent decision to allocate substantial orders to the TCL ordnance factories brings a renewed sense of hope for their survival. This move not only safeguards the livelihoods of thousands of Defence employees but also ensures the continued production of critical military equipment. As the Defence landscape evolves, maintaining a balance between private and public sector participation is crucial for fostering a robust and self-reliant Defence manufacturing ecosystem.

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