Srinagar: A major scam has surfaced in Police Department where protection level has been compromised in the procurement of thousands of Bullet Proof vests and headgears, and bullet proofing of gypsies.
The purchases of over Rs 100 crore were made by the PHQ for the Jammu and Kashmir Police and para-military Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) during last financial year.
The substandard purchases of these life saving vests, head gears and bullet proofing of gypsies has put the lives of the Police and para-military force, who are at the forefront of fighting militancy in the State, at risk.
As per the records, Jammu and Kashmir Police Headquarters (PHQ) procured bullet proof vests and bullet proof headgear during last financial year for Rs 64.6, 680, 880 Crore.
The PHQ purchased 16, 906 bullet proof vests from M/s PEC Limited for Rs 54.9106880 crore with each vest costing Rs 32,480. Besides this, the PHQ also purchased thousands of such vests for para-military CRPF for over Rs 50 crore. However, sources said that these vests have been purchased at exorbitant rates.
Sources in the PHQ said that Purchase Committee had selected a sample of proper specification and when the actual purchases were made, there was compromise on the protection level.
They said that even the Survey Committee set up for the quality check has, in league with the top PHQ officials, ignored the protection level and cleared the purchases.
The PHQ has also procured 20,000 of Bullet Proof headgears for around Rs 9.75 crores where protection level has again been compromised.
The PHQ also did bullet proofing of 32 Gypsy vehicles at the cost of Rs 2.7656615 crore (@ of Rs 8. 91, 942 lakh) from the same company (vide supply order no. MTR-51/2016/2300-03 dated 21-04-2017). However, sources said that before placing the order one of the top Police officials inquired from the Army about cost incurred on bullet proofing of their vehicles and he was told that it is around Rs 2 lakh. But the PHQ ignored actual cost incurred on the bullet proofing and placed the order at exorbitant rates with the company at the cost of State exchequer.
Sources said that early this year, a news was planted in the media by the PHQ that the militants have got steel bullets that can pierce the bullet proof vests and bullet proofing of the vehicles. They said that it was just done to justify the substandard purchases.
A ballistic expert told Excelsior that normally steel bullets should not pierce the quality bullet proofing.
However, he said that if the proper material is not used even the normal bullets can pierce through it.
Sources said the Vigilance Organization approached the PHQ for the documents regarding the procurement of the bullet proof vests and head gear and the top brass was initially hesitant in giving them access to the documents of the fishy purchase.
However, later they were allowed to just have a look at the files pertaining to the purchase and they were again reluctant to give them the copies of the documents.
They said that the PHQ finally handed over to the Vigilance Department the copies of the documents pertaining to the purchase after few months.
The Vigilance Organization is examining these documents and have also taken samples of the bullet proof vests from the stores.
Sources said that Vigilance Organization is sending the vests for testing their protection level before proceeding ahead in the case.
However, the official said that Vigilance is convinced that the material used in the bullet proof vests including cloth and the protection plates are of sub-standard quality.
The PHQ in a statement issued to Excelsior said that bullet proofing of the Gypsies was done after the SLPC approved it vide sanction order No. 1007 of 2017 dated: 22-03-2017. The statement said that these vehicles were surveyed by the Survey Board and were allotted to sub-ordinate units.
The statement said that Jammu and Kashmir Police issued an open letter in the year 2012 and subsequently order dated 27-07-2013 was placed on the successful firm for supply of Bullet Restraint Jackets. “However, the supplier firm M/S Adigear International, New Delhi failed to execute order with the result order had to be cancelled in the year 2016”, the statement added.
“Subsequently the department issued three more tenders for the procurement of Light Weight Bullet Proof Jackets one after another which did not mature to their failure of the firms to succeed in the evaluation process including ballistic testing”, read the statement.
“In the given circumstances, Police Headquarters considered the offer of M/s PEC Limited, a GoI Enterprise, subjected their samples of the Light Weight Bullet Proof Jackets to ballistic testing and after obtaining approval from the competent authority (SLPC) placed orders for purchase of much needed body armour for the officers and men of the department well within the provisions of financial code”, the statement read.
“Jammu and Kashmir Police has no concern with any middleman, whatsoever, in the purchase of level III + BP Jackets which were procured at much competitive and reasonable rates from an authorized Government concern for the use of police men working on ground in tough conditions”, the statement read. (DE)