The first jolt has come from the Army Headquarters to TCL one of the new Ordnance Factory Corporation. The Department of Military Affairs / Army Headquarters on the 6th of October, 2022 has floated a Tender for supply of 11,70,159 set of “Combat Uniform Digital Print as a set of Jacket / Trouser and Cap for Male” ignoring the 4 Ordnance Factories under TCL.
Recently, www.indianpsu.com has published a news item on the representation made by AIDEF to Shri. Rajnath Singh / Defence Minister reminding about the assurance given by him to hand hold the Corporations in providing sufficient workload post Corporatization of Ordnance Factories. The AIDEF in their representation has specifically brought out the case of the newly Digital Combat Uniform of the Indian Army and they have requested the Defence Minister that the capacity available in the TCL Group of Ordnance Factories should be fully utilized and the Uniform should not be given to private sector for manufacturing, since it will affect the existence of the 4 Ordnance Factories under TCL and it will have a big question mark on the future of the Ordnance Factories under TCL.
From the Tender floated by Army it has become now clear that the Government is not going to place the work order for manufacturing the new Combat Uniform to the Ordnance Factories. C. Srikumar, General Secretary, AIDEF is simply livid with this and stated that ” we oppose the decision of the Army Headquarters to float a open Tender ignoring the 4 Ordnance Factories under the TCL which are having captive capacity to manufacture all types of Troop Comfort Items required for the Armed Forces. In fact one of the Ordnance Factory under TCL at Avadi have supplied hundreds of new uniforms to Army Officers and Soldiers on their request and they were all highly satisfied with the quality of the uniform manufactured by the workers of OCF Avadi. I fail to understand that why Army is trying to play smart by floating an open tender like the present one”.
He said “I have not completely studied the Tender document floated by Army Headquarters. However, prima facie it clearly gives an impression that the tender conditions are either tailor-made to suite some selected Industries. Textile Manufacturing and Garment Manufacturing are two different types Industries. But the Army Headquarters Tender puts such a condition that the bidder should have the capability / activities and Machineries irrespective of locations being carried out under one legal entity holding one PAN for wet processing , dyeing, printing and garmenting. These types of Textile Mills are called Composite mills. In the past the Ordnance Clothing Factories used to put this conditions of Composite Mills in their Tender for procurement of Fabrics. Many Textile Industries which are not Composite Mill complained against this condition and subsequently the Ordnance Factories have withdrawn the condition. When this is the fact Army has gone one step ahead by not only imposing the condition of Composite Mills but also imposed the condition they should have garment manufacturing facility also. To my knowledge only one or two Textile Mills in India are having this facilities, which means the Tender will be restricted only to these one or two selected Textile Mills. All other Textile Mills and Garment Industries would not able to participate in the Tender. Especially, the Ordnance Factories under TCL will be out of the picture. In the past when NTC Mills were closed the AIDEF proposed to the Government that these Textile Mills can be taken over by the Ordnance Factory Board for supplying all types Textile Materials required for the Armed Forces. But the then Government rejected our proposal. Any way with little bit of legal knowledge I think that this Tender will not sustain the scrutiny of law”.
Srikumar says that they would once again take up the matter with the Defence Minister and also will request him to avoid all these contradictions and controversies and ultimate bad name to the Government, the Tender may be cancelled and straightaway the orders for 11,70,159 Combat Uniform Set may be placed on the 4 Ordnance Factories under TCL. Since, Government of India has established these Factories to take care of manufacturing the Troop Comfort Items for the Armed Forces. These dedicated capacities are National Assets. The Country cannot afford to underutilize the available capacities in the Ordnance Factories. In the matter of Defence and National Security cost alone cannot be a factor. Everything cannot be viewed in a commercial angle, especially National Security Matters. The factor to be considered should be the quality, the workmanship and the timely delivery of the items which the Ordnance Factories are committed of. The Army in the past has several times appreciated in writing about this capacity of the Ordnance Factories in the past several times. Even during the COVID-19 crisis it was these Ordnance Factories under TCL which manufactured and supplied lacks of Coveralls, Medical Masks, Hospital Tents etc. All these facts are available on record. I am confident good wisdom will prevail on the Government of India and take a positive decision as demanded by us.