DRDO needs a major overhaul: House Panel

DRDO is the premier institution in defence research in the country, with more than 50 laboratories, 500 scientists and 25, 000 other scientific, technical and supporting personnel and has a budget of Rs 13,600 crore, which is about 5.5% of the total defen

A parliamentary panel, which examined the issue of preparedness of the country's armed forces, defence production and requirement, has taken a dim view of the functioning of Defence Research and Development Organisation and felt it needs a "major overhaul".

DRDO is the premier institution in defence research in the country, with more than 50 laboratories, 500 scientists and 25, 000 other scientific, technical and supporting personnel and has a budget of Rs 13,600 crore, which is about 5.5% of the total defence budget.

Noting that DRDO and Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs) are expected to be storehouses of strategic know-how in the development of missiles, armaments, light combat aircrafts, radars, electronic warfare systems and other defence hardware, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Estimates wondered as to why the country has to depend on foreign suppliers not just for sophisticated weapons but also for basic defence armaments.

"DRDO has not been able to meet nation's expectations... the committee is of the view that the functioning of DRDO needs a major overhaul and its contribution in the context of country's requirements need to be examined," the panel said in a report which was adopted in its meeting on Tuesday.

The report is yet to be presented before Parliament.

The panel also referred to a CAG report of 2015 which had said that an examination of 14 mission mode projects carried out by DRDO laboratories revealed that all projects "failed to achieve their timelines" and the probable date of completion was extended many times.

The committee also flagged another report of a high-power committee constituted by the Ministry of Defence, which had reviewed the functioning of DRDO and had said that at least 11 laboratories of the organisation need to be closed down or amalgamated and its "non-core" research activities need to be stopped.

Referring to the high-power committee's recommendation that DRDO needs to work with clearly defined objectives to develop weapon systems and platforms, the panel said that it feels that the end users — the three services —  must be consulted on areas of research and development of weapon systems.

The panel also recommended the formation of an inter-ministerial group to facilitate collaboration among organisations such as SRO, DRDO and DPSUs.

It also called for "clear-cut road map" for meeting targets of Defence Production Policy, 2018, which aims at making India one of the top defence producers by 2025 with self-reliance in 13 areas covering almost the entire range of weapons and systems. 

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DRDO needs a major overhaul: House Panel

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