On A Fast Track

BSF is modernising its assets at a rapid pace

Dilip Kumar Mekala

New Delhi: In a move to expedite procurements for the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF), the ministry of home affairs (MHA) had increased the delegated financial powers of the director generals (DG). According to the new guidelines, each DG can now spend up to Rs 20 crore for machinery and equipment; and another Rs 20 crore for arms and ammunition per year. This will, to a certain extent, ease the backlogs on acquisitions. However, many big ticket procurements, which are worth much beyond Rs 20 crore, are also being examined by the MHA.

The picture represents Sagem’s Felin system. BSF is in the process of acquiring Sagem’s hand held thermal imagers

Leveraging on this new directive, the Border Security Force (BSF) has started to fast forward its modernisation process. “The thrust of my DG D.K. Pathak is to give quality products to our troops,” said Anil Kumar, Inspector General (provisioning), BSF. He claims that by the end of this year, the Force would acquire latest products that will be used in border guarding operations.

The most crucial procurement for the Force at this stage is to enhance the surveillance devices and also to increase the capability of the weapon systems. “The accuracy at night is a very important aspect for the BSF. For that we are undergoing a procurement process for hand-held thermal imagers (HHTI) and passive night vision sights,” said Kumar. The BSF is deployed in a linear fashion all along the border, and relies on surveillance equipment in areas where fencing is not possible. The equipment must detect all the intrusions from far off distance during the day and night. “Our capability during the day is good, but at nights, we use HHTI. We are increasing our capability by procuring HHTIs in large numbers,” he added.

France’s Sagem had recently emerged as the L1 (lowest bid) in this. It will supply 355 HHTI in a time-bound manner, hopefully by the end of this year. This is at an advanced stage, as the BSF has sent the file to the MHA for sanction of the expenditure. Since it is high value procurement, the scope of this project is well outside the financial powers of the DG. Which means the MHA will have to take it out of the budget allocated for CAPF modernisation.

This is one of the big ticket procurements that went via global tenders. Even Indian companies participated in this programme, but Sagem managed to emerge as the L1. “Passive night vision devices programme is also a global tender. It is also at the stage of technical evaluation at the moment,” said IG Anil Kumar.

But the biggest impediment at this stage is the long and tedious procedure for the MHA procurements. The Force has to first formulate their Qualitative Requirements (QR) and trial directives for any equipment. And that has to be approved by the MHA. Once it is approved, the Force has to take the provisioning sanction. For example, if the value of the procurement comes well within the DG’s financial capabilities, then the DG can go ahead with the procurement. In case the purchase value is more than that of the DG’s financial limit, then the provisioning sanction has to be taken from the MHA.

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