New bullet-proof jackets for paramilitary forces by June

Last Updated: Sun, Mar 21, 2010 11:00 hrs

The Indian government is set to procure around 60,000 lightweight bullet-proof jackets to be used by paramilitary troopers for counter-insurgency operations in the country.

A home ministry official said the testing procedure for the jackets has been completed and a report is expected by March end.

Earlier in January, the government had scrapped the technical evaluation report and ordered re-trial of the jackets following reports that their tests were fudged at a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) lab in Chandigarh.

'Now the retrial has been done and concluded. The report is expected by March end and the bullet proof jackets will be procured by June,' the official said. The retrial was conducted on fresh samples from suppliers.

The home ministry got several complaints against a DRDO joint director R.K. Verma who had conducted the previous tests after the government floated a tender for procuring nearly 60,000 bullet-proof jackets.

Verma was in the evaluation committee formed by the government. A CD purportedly containing conversations between Verma and one of the bidders was received by the ministry in which the official claimed that the approved vendors had rigged the tender to jack up prices. He also admitted in the CD that discrepancies existed during the tests.

The bidders were asked to submit fresh samples and the tender advisory and evaluation committees were ordered to conduct a retrial under the strict vigilance of the home ministry to ensure scrupulous adherence to the terms and conditions of the tender.

The bullet-proof jackets are for the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), National Security Guard (NSG), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Assam Rifles and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB).

The CRPF, which is engaged in anti-Maoist operations in central India and counter-terrorism operations in Jammu and Kashmir, is the nodal agency to procure the jackets.