West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Tuesday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stall and reverse the process of corporatising ordnance factories in the interest of national security and the country’s defence.
Her missive comes in the backdrop of the Centre’s bid to corporatise all the ordnance factories of the country, including the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), which has it’s headquarters in Kolkata.
The OFB with its 41 factories, nine training institutes across the country and about 1.6 lakh officers and employees has often been called the fourth pillar of the Indian Defence apparatus which produces a vast range of arms and equipment for the armed forces, she wrote.
“I am shocked and surprised to know that this vital pillar of the country’s defence and this key industrial initiative for our land is now being contemplated to be subjected to a sudden exercise of degovernmentalisation, for which there has been not even an iota of stakeholders’ consultations uptil now”, she said.
Describing the reported step as an “extremely sensitive and urgent issue”, Banerjee also spoke of the importance of the OFB, which manufactures arms and ammunition for the country’s armed forces.
“I have been receiving reports regarding a decision that the Government of India has apparently been taking to corporatise all the Ordnance Factories including the Ordnance Factory Board, with its Head Quarters in Kolkata. Its has also been suggested that this will finally lead to the privatisation of these great national assets,” Banerjee wrote.
The West Bengal government has not received any “inkling” of “discourses” that have led to such “inexplicable initiatives” by the Government of India, Banerjee wrote in her letter.
“I would, therefore request you to kindly stall and reverse this process of corporatisation and privatisation in the greatest interest of the national security and defence of our country,” she stated.
Banerjee, a strong critic on BJP, said the country’s industrial policy has gradually been made more and more friendly to the private players in the market. But there are some core and strategic areas where the state is yet to “abdicate its paramount role”.
“I urge you to kindly keep that role of national custidianship unaffected in future too,” she wrote. Various committees constituted by the ministry of defence (MoD) have suggested the corporatisation of the OFB to enable it to function under its own board of directors. Employees of the Ordnance Factory at Tiruchirapalli (OFT) staged a protest against the Centre’s decision at Trichy on Monday.
Source - PTI