New Delhi: The government has decided to reduce the size of the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) and set up a watchdog to speed up the execution of defence projects and increase private participation.
Some of DRDO’s 51 laboratories across the country will be merged with other public-funded institutions that have similar interests and administrative structures, a defence ministry spokesman said.
Speedy execution: Defence minister A.K. Antony has approved a series of measures that will transform DRDO. Ajay Aggarwal/HT
A commercial arm will be created as a private limited company with a seed capital of around Rs2 crore to deal with spin-off products and technologies meant for civilian use.
The ministry will also set up the Defence Technology Commission, chaired by the defence minister, as a watchdog to monitor and expedite the execution of projects. Members will include officers from the three services.
“Defence minister A.K. Antony today approved a series of measures that will transform and revitalize the Defence Research and Development Organisation in form and substance,” spokesman Sithansu Kar said on Thursday. “It was done to give a major boost to defence research in the country and to ensure effective participation of the private sector in defence technology.”
The restructuring will follow the recommendations of two review panels, one headed by former secretary in the department of science and technology, P. Rama Rao, and the other chaired by defence secretary Pradeep Kumar.
The Rao committee was set up in February 2007 to suggest steps to improve the functioning of DRDO, after legislators raised a furore over delayed projects and over-running costs. The panel submitted its report a year later.
Antony set up the Kumar committee in June 2009 to consider responses to the report and suggestions made by stakeholders.
“The government has accepted more or less all the recommendations with minor changes,” a ministry official said on condition of anonymity. “The commission will set (a) target for self reliance on development of technology.”
Among the projects running behind schedule is the development of a light commercial aircraft, which has been delayed by four years. The project’s cost has shot up to Rs5,777.56 crore from Rs3,301.78 crore.
An interception, monitoring, direction finding and analysis system, known as ‘Divyadrishti’, is two years behind schedule. Its cost has gone up to Rs670.60 crore from Rs560 crore.