OFB manufactured multi calibre individual weapon system

BANGALORE: Ordnance factories across the country are grappling with an acute shortage of staff — most of them from technical streams. Parliamentary standing committee on defence has put the number of vacancies across 41 ordnance factories at 78,452 as of 2017. 

TOI had carried in its editions on May 14 an exclusive report about the Army sounding the alarm over a high number of accidents taking place in the field due to poor and defective quality of ammunition supplied for tanks, artillery, air defence and other guns by state-owned Ordnance Factory Board (OFB). Army had told Ministry of Defence that accidents were causing fatalities and injuries at an alarming rate.

The 41 ordnance factories that the parliamentary panel has mentioned come under the OFB. Though the panel has put the vacancies at 78,452 as of 2017, recognised employee unions say this has risen to 81,164 as of April this year. The total sanctioned posts are 1.45 lakh and almost 56% of them are lying vacant, the unions claim. 

Similarly, the Directorate General of Quality Assurance (DGQA), which is responsible for checking quality of products at ordnance factories, has about 60% vacancies. Overall, there is a vacancy of more than 55% in both the agencies put together. 

“These are figures we got from the ministry and it does not paint a good picture,” said C Srikumar, general secretary, All India Defence Employees Federation (AIDEF). “The federations are repeatedly demanding that a large number of posts, especially in the group C and D cadre, are regularly filled, but nothing has been done. How can one person do the work of two?”, said Srikumar,

Ajay Kumar, secretary (defence production), did not respond to several calls and emails from TOI. Questions sent to the MoD spokesperson also did not elicit a response. 

MK Ravindra Pillai, an employee union leader from DGQA, said: “The vacancies have been piling up in the last five to seven years. Posts that fell vacant after people superannuated have also not been filled. The sanctioned strength is also declining. They are trying to close down DGQA.”

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