Taking a strong objection to cost overruns and delay in construction of warship projects - P-15 A (Destroyers), P-17 (Frigates) and P -28 (Anti submarine Corvettes) - the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Parliament has recommended fixing accountability at a single point in the ministry of defence (MoD) instead of various directorates and agencies involved. Noting that "the extent to which the Indian Navy ship building are delayed and the scale of under-estimation reveals deeper malaise", the panel report tabled last week has said that a unity of command would ensure better span of control and effective management of ship building processes and procedures.
The panel has pointed that in case of P-15A ships, the cost which was calculated on the basis of the year 1999 as base year, led to a cost overrun of 226 percent in the initial estimate. With P-17 projects, the build period rose from 60 months to 78 months and in case of P-28 ships, there was a cost escalation from Rs 3,051.27 crore to Rs 7,852.39 crore. While accepting that non-availability of quality steel and other supplies are factors in delay, the panel underlined that warship production 'directly affects the security preparedness of the country' and exhorted the MoD to take punitive action on officials responsible for inaccurate estimates.
'There should be an institutionalized mechanism at the Naval Head Quarters and it, along with MoD should conduct independent cost estimation by using internationally accepted best practices,' PAC said.
Navy's vice chief, according to the report, in his oral submission told the committee that the problem oif delays is largely because of the weapon and sensors that currently is mostly imported. Further, the vice chief of naval staff said that cutting edge technology in shipbuilding came mainly from the then Soviet Union and delays were more stark after its disintegration.
Even as the PAC has asked to gradually cut down dependency on imports for machinery and weapons, currently, while India has almost 90 per cent indigenisation in the 'float' category that include the superstructure, it is lagging at just 50-60 percent indigenisation in the 'move' category which concerns propulsion and just about 30 percent in 'fight' category that is weapons, sensors etc.
Currently, close to 50 warships of the Indian navy are under construction. And navy's Maritime Capability Perspective Plan, formulated in 2005 projects a 160-ship strong force including 90 frontline combat platforms.