The Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) on Wednesday issued a press release responding to the reports citing an internal Army report on the alleged lapses in OFB ammunition quality, saying the OFB does not accept the figures cited by the report, which was confirmed by an Army spokesperson.
“For the accidents that occurred in the period between January 2015 to December 2019, where defect investigation has been completed, only 19 per cent of the cases are attributable to OFB,” the release says.
OFB called the report an “unverified” internal report of the Indian Army, adding that OFB had not received it. The release says accidents are complex phenomena and can have multiple causes “such as poor gun maintenance, faulty firing drill, un-validated design changes in the weapon, faulty ammunition design” and highlights the role of the Authority Holding Sealed Particulars committee in investigating defects. “The committees include representatives of all the stakeholders including the user. The investigations carried out by these committees are seldom holistic in nature despite the fact that OFB has been insisting on such an approach,” it alleges.
The Army report had stated that 403 accidents had taken place due to poor quality of products from OFB, with 27 fatal casualties and 159 non-fatal casualties taking place as a result. It attributes a loss of Rs 960 crore to products disposed of ‘within shelf life’ and called for corporatisation of OFB.
OFB says that out of the total number of accidents where defect investigation was completed, only 2 per cent of cases where casualties were reported were attributable to OFB, adding that between 2011 and 2018, over 125 accidents took place involving ammunition procured from sources other than OFB, both domestic and foreign.
It added that most accidents involved vintage ammunition manufactured prior to 2006 when inspection of all input materials was undertaken by the DGQA and OFB had no control on the quality of input material. It claims that after 2005-06, when responsibility for inspection of input material was given to OFB, there was a decrease in the number of accidents.
As per the Cabinet Committee on Security meeting on July 29, it was decided that the OFB would be converted into one or more than one 100 per cent Government-owned corporate entities registered under the Companies Act 2013. The Ministry of Defence said the move would improve OFB’s autonomy, accountability and efficiency in Ordnance Supplies. In response to this, the Federations of Defence Employees working in Ordnance Factories observed a strike from August 20-25, which the government says “marginally affected’ the normal production activities in all 41 factories for five working days.