New Delhi: In the wake of ‘Atmanirbharta’ or self-reliance, the Defence Ministry is considering a major change in the purchase of weaponry, that will ensure that the armed forces get their supplies as quickly as possible.

The proposal is to ensure contracts to not just the L1 bidder (the manufacturer that has the lowest price after fulfilling all the requirements), but also the bidder that was L2 (the participant that came second in the bidding process). While no decision has been taken as it, sources said this is under active consideration.

There are several major advantages for going to both L1 and L2. Most importantly, two manufacturers will be able to work on the same weapon system and their combined capacities, being more than the capacity of one, the production of a large order will happen sooner rather than later.

This means that the armed forces will get their weapon systems earlier than if only one manufacturer was involved. It will also ensure that more Indian firms, both private and public, will get the experience of making defence equipment over a period of time. This could apply to deals where the delivery time is three years or more.

Of course, the candidate that is L2 has to match the L1 bidder in terms of price. It isn't clear what percentage of the product will be made by the L1 bidder and what percentage by the L2 bidder, but a 60:40 ratio is being talked about as a ballpark figure. This is a move that has been supported by the armed forces but a defence ministry decision is awaited, but if it does come through, it will be a major change from the 'L1 takes all' process over the years.

Emergency Purchases

Just after the Chinese entered the Galwan area in early May 2020, the defence ministry allowed the armed forces to make emergency purchases of specific weapon systems. This has been done earlier as well, particularly during wars, but this time the defence ministry is thinking of allowing emergency purchases as the emphasis on Atmanirbharta may leave some gaps in the arsenal of the armed forces. The emergency purchases are usually for small amounts of arms and ammunition (each weapon package should cost several hundred crores of Rupees) just to ensure there is no shortage if there is an immediate necessity. The system worked very well two years ago.