On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited Amethi in Uttar Pradesh to launch a Kalashnikov rifle manufacturing facility, the proposal of which was cleared by the NDA government on February 14, 2019.
Attacking Congress for the delay in procuring defence weapons, PM Modi accused the Congress of being lackadaisical regarding the army saying that “they could not even decide on the arms to be manufactured” at Ordnance Factory in Amethi. Taking a dig at the Gandhi family, the Prime Minister said, “Now, Amethi will not be known for a famous family but for AK 203, ‘Made in Amethi’. These rifles will help our jawans in encounters with Naxals and terrorists.”
Congress President Rahul Gandhi, however, seems to be unhappy with the facts that PM Modi revealed the earlier status of the Korwa Ordnance Factory in Amethi which was started in 2007 but failed to manufacture any arms that were intended to be produced at the factory. Rahul Gandhi has now accused Prime Minister Modi of lying during his visit to Amethi and claimed that he himself had laid the foundation for the Ordnance factory at Amethi and were manufacturing small arms.
अमेठी की ऑर्डिनेंस फैक्ट्री का शिलान्यास 2010 में मैंने खुद किया था।
पिछले कई सालों से वहां छोटे हथियारों का उत्पादन चल रहा है।
कल आप अमेठी गए और अपनी आदत से मजबूर होकर आपने फिर झूठ बोला।
क्या आपको बिल्कुल भी शर्म नहीं आती?
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) March 4, 2019
However, Rahul Gandhi in his hurry to target PM Modi has resorted to false allegations against the Prime Minister. Rahul Gandhi claims that the Ordnance factory at Amethi was producing some small arms during the last few years without specifying the actual timeline. Apart from this, he falsely accuses PM Modi of lying regarding the status of arms production at the Amethi plant. On contrary, reports suggest that there was no production of any arms at the Ordnance factory till now.
A defence ministry note about the status of manufacturing of defence products in the country released in July last year also show that nothing was being produced in the Ordnance Factory in Korwa, Amethi, and Carbine production was only planned there.
Rahul Gandhi claims that he had laid the foundation stone for the ordnance factory in 2010, but the fact is, he had done so in 2007 itself, and the factory was supposed to be made operational by October 2010.
In October 2005, the Indian Army had proposed an urgent requirement of new generation carbines at the cost of Rupees 2,524 crores. In February 2006, the Defence Acquisition Council approved the induction of CQB carbines through import along with Transfer of Technology (ToT), and indigenous production of Protective carbines. The foundation stone of the forty-first Ordnance Factory for the manufacture of new generation carbines was laid down at Korwa in Amethi Tehsil of Sultanpur District in December 2007.
Interestingly, even after three years of the inauguration, the factory at Amethi did not even have carbine design which it can produce. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and OFB designed weapon had failed to pass the army’s tests and the plans to import carbines was stuck in UPA government’s red tape governance.
The CAG in its audit report of 2010-11 had observed that the sanction of an ordnance factory at Amethi was an ill-conceived idea for several reasons. The CAG report had mentioned that the UPA’s decision to construct a factory at Amethi had commenced without any knowledge of the intended product’s design. The Ordnance Factory at Korwa was supposed to be completed by 2010 but it neither had selected the CQB carbine to be imported nor the indigenous Protective carbine had qualified in user trials. The CAG had also flagged irregularities pertaining to land allocation also when it had observed that the factory was being accommodated in 34 acres land of HAL at Korwa, against the requirement of 60 acres.
In fact, the Narendra Modi government’s decision to set up a new plant at Amethi, Uttar Pradesh, for the joint production of 7.47 lakh AK-203 rifles will be the only major defence production at the Korwa plant that will be undertaken in the last few years. The AK-203 rifle, which is an upgraded version of the legendary AK-47 rifle, is being manufactured by Indo-Russia Rifles Pvt Ltd, a joint venture between India’s Ordnance factory and a Russian firm. The Korwa Ordnance Factory will manufacture the latest 200 series of the iconic Kalashnikov rifles.
The decision by the Narendra Modi government comes at the backdrop of a recent signing of a deal for procuring 72,400 assault rifles for the Indian Army’s infantry from the US-based M/s Sig Sauer.
The Indian Armed Forces are currently equipped with 5.56×45 mm INSAS Rifle. There is an urgent requirement of replacing the in-service 5.56X45 mm INSAS Rifle with a 7.62X51mm Assault Rifle which is compact, robust, modern in technology and simple to maintain in field conditions. The rifle faces several problems, especially when used in high altitudes on the Himalayas, like getting jammed, magazine getting cracked, and automatically going into automatic mode when set for three-round bursts. Both the army and paramilitary forces of the country have been demanding a replacement for INSAS rifle. The efforts to develop a new rifle indigenously have not seen success as prototypes have failed in tests. DRDO had developed the Excalibur rifle, an upgraded version of INSAS, but it was also rejected by Indian Army.