CBI probes scam involving DRDO, ordnance factory

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is probing a financial scam involving ordnance factory officials in Madhya Pradesh who are hand in glove with scientists at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) laboratory in Pune over purchasing poor quality propellant bags for Pinaka multi-barrel rockets at an inflated price.

The defence ministry has accorded sanction to the CBI for probing purchases worth crores to procure rubberised bags at the Ordnance Factory, Itarsi for transportation of propellant for Pinaka rockets from one ordnance factory to another.

The Bhopal unit of CBI registered a preliminary inquiry against the ordnance factory officials besides scientists at High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL), Pune and Nagpur-based VLS Industries, which supplied the bags.

HEMRL, a an unit under the DRDO, allegedly favoured the supplier by accepting bags of substandard quality at high rates, Minister of State for Defence Jitendra Singh informed the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

On the request of the CBI, necessary permission was accorded by the defence ministry to probe the activities of then assistant general manager of the ordnance factory who played a key role in securing the contract for the Nagpur firm.

The disclosure from the defence ministry a week after Singh’s senior and defence minister A K Antony admitting in the Parliament that in the last three years defence ministry sent as many as 90 cases to the CBI for investigation including 10 cases alone in January, 2013.

Out of these 90 cases, Antony stated in the Upper House last week that as many as 42 cases were pending investigation, 41 cases were under trial and five cases had been closed.

Plane crash

Responding to another question, Antony said Indian Air Force lost as many as 50 fighter planes and helicopters since 2008-09 killing 41 people and injuring 25 more. In the first two and half months of 2013, six planes and helicopters crashed including a Su-30 and a Jaguar — two of the advanced relatively new platforms of the IAF.

While most of the accidents happened with old MiG series aircraft, IAF lost four Su-30, two Mirage-2000 and two Jaguars in the last four years besides 13 choppers.
Seventeen pilots, 18 service personnel and six civilians were killed in those accidents.

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