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The Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) has issued a press release after several media houses published reports alleging them of providing the Indian Armed Forces with substandard ammunition. The OFB claimed that it did not have the possession of the internal Indian Army report cited by the various publications and accused them of not seeking verification from the OFB before publishing articles.
The OFB, in its response, has alleged that the reports accusing them of manufacturing faulty equipment were aimed at spreading misinformation and were defamatory and alarmist in nature.
The board strongly refuted the allegations published in the news reports which stated that there had been 403 incidents between 2014 to 2020 where OFB ammunition was involved and had caused the exchequer a loss of Rs 960 crores, which in turn could have financed the purchase of 100 artillery guns. The reports published by media organisations also held OFB responsible for the loss of 27 lives because of lower quality ammunition in the above time period.
Earlier yesterday, several news organisations such as India Today, Hindustan Times, Economic Times and many others had cited an “internal Indian Army report” to allege that the faulty ammunition provided by the OFB had caused a loss of 27 lives and about Rs 1000 crores to the public exchequer, which could have been used to bankroll 100 artillery guns.
OFB rubbishes media reports slamming it as based on “unverified internal Indian Army report”
Slamming the authors of the reports for publishing articles based on “unverified internal report of the Indian Army”, the OFB claimed that accidents are complex phenomenon and there are multiple reasons for their occurrence such as poor gun maintenance, faulty firing drill, un-validated design changes in the weapon, faulty ammunition design among others. It said that a defect investigation is carried out to ascertain the exact cause of accidents.
According to the statement released, the OFB has claimed that only 19 per cent of total accidents occurred between January 2015 to December 2019, whose defect investigation has been completed, were attributable to OFB.
“Out of the total number of accidents where defect investigation has been completed, only 2 per cent of the cases where casualties have been reported are attributable to the OFB,” read the statement, adding that the 98 per cent of the cases where there have been casualties reported, were not attributable to the OFB.
The statement claimed selective targeting of the OFB, alleging that there had been 125 accidents involving ammunition procured from sources other than OFB but only cases where ammunition manufactured by OFB were reported.
Regarding the 27 fatalities reported by the news articles, the OFB press release mentioned that 19 of them had been in CAD Pulgaon in May 2016 in an incident involving mine anti-tank (A/T) IA ND, which was developed and manufactured by the DRDO.
Since OFB took over the inspection of ammunition, accidents have decreased: Press Release
The OFB also added that most of the accidents that have occurred involved vintage ammunition manufactured before 2006. The inspection of all the ammunition was undertaken by DGQA and OFB had no control on the quality of the input material, the press release stated. The OFB claimed that since 2005-06, after the responsibility of inspecting the input material was given to it, there has been a decrease in the number of accidents.
Furthermore, the OFB said that the systems incorporated in the place since 2013 have demonstrated a satisfaction level of 99 per cent, which is comparable to international benchmarks. The repeat export orders of the ammunition manufactured by OFB is a testimony of its high-quality equipment, the statement said.
On the issue of accidents related to 125 mm tank ammunition, OFB rubbished the allegations levelled against them in the news reports, saying that the accidents in T-72/T-90 tanks are a dated issue, wherein incidents have been observed in all combinations of ammunition and barrel-imported as well as domestic.
For cases of accidents involving 23 mm, the OFB maintained that only 23 per cent of the total incidents were due to OFB ammunition and rest 77 per cent were because of the imported ammunition.
“The newspaper article’s logic that the amount expended on the allegedly faulty ammunition involved in the highly inflated figure of 403 accidents could have financed 100 artillery guns is specious at best,” the press release said.