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SOURCE:  PTI

A parliamentary panel on Thursday complimented the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for managing to bring down the import of missiles, radars and other key military systems to an almost “negligible” level by focusing on their indigenous manufacturing.

At the same time, the Standing Committee on Defence criticised the government for a shortfall of Rs 3,002 crore in the allocation to the DRDO for 2021-22 as against the proposed outlay at the budget estimate (BE) stage. The 13th report of the committee, headed by Jual Oram and comprising around 30 lawmakers including Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, was tabled in Parliament on Thursday.

“The committee appreciate that DRDO has managed to bring down the imports in missiles, radars, sonars, torpedo, electronic warfare systems, AWACs (Airborne Warning and Control Systems) to almost negligible level due to their indigenisation efforts,” it said.

The committee recommend that DRDO must make all efforts to develop a mechanism for regular and steady adoption of the latest technologies to boost the indigenisation process.

On shortfall in allocation to the DRDO, the committee said the government should ensure that the budgetary requirements of the organisation are fully met.

“The committee feel that since the role of the DRDO has assumed greater significance in the area of development of futuristic technologies that are required for defence preparedness, it should be ensured that the budgetary requirements of the DRDO are fully met and, if required, even additional funds may be provided,” it said.

The committee also noted the steps initiated by the DRDO to ensure better coordination with the armed forces to bring down the rejection rate as well as reduce delays in the supply of products.

“It reiterated that more stringent measures need to be taken by the DRDO to ensure adherence to delivery timelines of various products the armed forces.

The report mentioned that the committee was apprised that the authorised strength of scientists in the DRDO is 7,773 while the existing strength is 6,959.

“It shows that there is a 10 per cent shortage in scientists in the DRDO. The committee note that the shortage of manpower can prove to be a hindrance towards fructification of committed R&D projects,” it said.

In its reply, the government said the DRDO optimally utilises its manpower and listed steps to fill the vacant positions.

The standing committee also appreciated the DRDO’s efforts during the crisis facing the country following the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The concerted efforts made by the DRDO to help the common man in providing ventilators for Covid patients in hospitals, hand sanitisers and N99 masks, body suits for doctors, medical staff, sanitation workers, para-military forces and other government organisations, overall proved to be very helpful in fighting the pandemic,” the report said.