Amid tension between India and China over the Ladakh border dispute - fuelled by the killing of 20 Indian soldiers last month - the armed forces have been granted special powers to purchase up to Rs 300 crore of weapons and equipment for "emergent operational requirements", the Defence Ministry said Wednesday.
The decision, taken at a DAC (defence acquisition council) meeting led by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, will shrink procurement timelines and ensure the military gets new arms and equipment within 12 months of placement of the order.
"DAC delegated powers for progressing urgent capital acquisition cases, up to Rs 300 crores, to the armed forces to meet emergent operational requirements," a tweet by the ministry said.
"This will shrink procurement timelines and ensure placement of orders within six months and commencement of deliveries within one year," the tweet read.
The ministry's statement said there would be no cap on the number of procurement programmes, meaning the armed forces can place multiple orders - so long as each is Rs 300 crore or less.
This will shrink the procurement timelines and ensure placement of orders within six months and commencement of deliveries within one year.— रक्षा मंत्री कार्यालय/ RMO India (@DefenceMinIndia) July 15, 2020
According to news agency PTI, the special meeting of the DAC was convened to discuss national security along northern borders, including Ladakh, and the need to strengthen the armed forces.
Earlier this month, the defence ministry approved the procurement of 33 frontline fighter jets, a number of missile systems and other military hardware at a cost of Rs 38,900 crore.
According to PTI this will consist of 21 MiG-29s from Russia and 12 Sukhoi-30s from government-run HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited). Procurement of 248 ASTRA BVR (beyond visual range) Air-to-Air missile systems and other missile systems were also approved.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who made a two-day visit to Ladakh, days after the soldiers were killed in a violent face-off with China - the first since 1975 - told the troops that modernisation of the armed forces was a priority for his government.
He also said the government would balance "vocal for local" - to increase manufacturing and help a coronavirus-battered economy - by importing modern defence technology from around the world.
Tensions between India and China threatened to spiral out of control after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in eastern Ladakh's Galwan Valley region last month.
Following extensive senior-level military talks between the two, there has been a degree of mutual disengagement, with each side withdrawing by two kilometres. However, the situation is still volatile.
With input from PTI