Beyond Bullets: Balancing Security Needs With Environmental And Ethical Concerns In Defence Acquisition

Posted On - 10 June, 2024 • By - King Stubb & Kasiva


The Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020[1] outlines a complex process for acquiring military equipment in India. Unlike standard commercial procurement, defence acquisition involves unique challenges like limited supplier options, intricate technologies, and geopolitical considerations. The DAP strives for a balance between transparency, accountability, and factors like timely equipment delivery, cost-effectiveness, and promoting domestic production through the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (Self-Reliance) initiative.[2]

  • This revised procedure emphasizes several key objectives. Streamlining the process with digital tools and data-driven selections aims for efficiency. The “Make in India” initiative[3] encourages increased participation from Indian companies, particularly small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).  Furthermore, the DAP acknowledges the importance of ethical conduct by incorporating measures like the Integrity Pact to prevent corruption.  While environmental considerations are not explicitly prioritized, the document encourages responsible practices throughout the equipment lifecycle.

Environmental Considerations

The DAP 2020 prioritizes environmental responsibility throughout the defence equipment acquisition process. The key points highlighting these considerations are:

  • Early Integration (SQR Development & RFP):
    • Environmental Testing Defined: Right from the initial stages, the Statement of Qualitative Requirements (SQRs) considers “environmental and material tests essential for operational deployment and role”. This ensures equipment suitability for specific environmental conditions.
    • RFP Transparency: The Request for Proposal (RFP) clearly outlines environmental considerations for vendors. It includes details on:
      • “Environmental conditions for the lab tests” – specifying the environmental conditions the equipment will be tested under.
      • Environmental Standards: The RFP identifies the “Standards that would apply” to the equipment, with a preference for Indian equivalents of international standards. This promotes adherence to environmental regulations.
      • Test Facility Availability: The DAP encourages using test facilities within India whenever possible. This minimizes the environmental impact associated with international transportation for testing.
  • Rigorous Evaluation (Trials & Evaluation):
    • Environmental Testing During Trials: “Technical trials” conducted by the Quality Assurance (QA) agency “include physical evaluation and environmental tests”. These tests assess the equipment’s performance and durability under various environmental conditions.
    • Field Evaluation Trials (FET): “DGQA Evaluation including Environmental testing” is a mandatory component of FETs. This ensures real-world environmental performance evaluation.
  • Post-Acquisition Considerations (Technical Support):
    • Storage and Maintenance: Even after the acquisition, the DAP considers environmental impact. The vendor’s technical proposal must include “storage conditions/environment conditions recommended” for the equipment. This ensures proper storage and maintenance practices minimize environmental degradation.
  • Additional Considerations:
    • “Make in India” Initiative: While not explicitly an environmental regulation, the “Make in India” initiative within the DAP can potentially promote environmentally friendly practices. This can happen through:
      • Reduced transportation needs for equipment manufactured domestically.
      • Potential for stricter environmental regulations within India that manufacturers must comply with.
      • Technology transfer of sustainable manufacturing techniques from foreign to Indian companies.

Applicable Laws for Environmental Considerations

The DAP 2020 emphasizes environmental responsibility throughout the acquisition process. However, to comply with these considerations, contractors must also adhere to existing environmental legislation in India.

  • Applicable Laws: Several environmental statutes govern manufacturing and production activities in India, including those undertaken by defence contractors. These include:
    • The Environmental Protection Act (1986): This legislation establishes a framework for environmental protection and pollution control.[4]
    • The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act (1974): Regulates the discharge of pollutants into water bodies.[5]
    • The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act (1981): Sets standards for air quality and regulates emissions from industrial activities.[6]
  • Compliance Requirements:  Defence contractors must comply with air, water, and ground pollution standards established under these laws. This might involve:
    • Installing pollution control equipment (e.g., filters) to minimize emissions.
    • Establishing wastewater treatment plants to ensure proper disposal of industrial effluents.
    • Managing hazardous waste according to specific regulations.
  • Specialized Regulations:  Certain industries may have additional environmental regulations specific to their operations. Defence contractors might need to comply with these depending on their manufacturing processes and the materials used.
  • Enforcement Agencies:  The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) jointly enforce environmental regulations.
  • Non-Compliance Consequences:  Failure to comply with environmental regulations can result in:
    • Heavy fines and penalties.
    • Project delays or stoppages.
    • Closure of manufacturing facilities.

Important Note: While the DAP 2020 encourages environmentally friendly practices, “green” solutions are not explicitly given preference during procurement. However, responsible environmental practices can minimize compliance costs and potential delays associated with non-compliance.

Ethical Considerations

The DAP 2020 prioritizes ethical conduct throughout the defence procurement process. Key ethical considerations outlined are:

  • Combating Bribery and Corruption:
    • Agent Regulations: For foreign vendors, the DAP mandates disclosure of any agents involved in marketing equipment. This transparency helps prevent agents from manipulating the process.
    • Integrity Pact: Both the government and bidders commit to ethical conduct through the Integrity Pact. This pact includes:
      • Government Commitment: The Ministry of Defence (MoD) promises not to demand or accept bribes.
      • Bidder Commitment: Bidders pledge not to offer bribes and establish a code of conduct prohibiting such behaviour.
      • Disclosure of Payments to Agents: Bidders must disclose all payments made to agents within the previous 12 months before tender submission, followed by annual reports during the procurement process.
      • Post-Contract Obligations: The no-bribery commitment and disclosure obligation remain in effect for the winning bidder until the contract is completed.
  • Ensuring Fairness and Transparency:
    • Agent Scope of Work: Clear communication of the agent’s responsibilities ensures they do not engage in unethical practices.
    • Prohibition of Undue Influence: The DAP strictly prohibits offering gifts, bribes, or inducements to any government official or individual who can influence the procurement process. Penalties include contract termination and financial repercussions.
    • Company Code of Conduct: While not mandatory, the DAP encourages bidders to have a company code of conduct rejecting unethical behaviour.
  • Additional Considerations:
    • False Declarations: Bidders who submit false declarations related to non-engagement in corrupt practices face severe consequences (Chapter 9).
    • Third-Party Involvement: The Integrity Pact extends its commitment to preventing bribes from being offered to any person or entity influencing the process.

Conclusion and The Way Forward

The DAP 2020 strives for a complex balance between national security needs, economic considerations, and responsible procurement practices. While environmental and ethical considerations are integrated throughout the document, there’s room for further optimization.

  • Environmental Considerations:  The “Make in India” initiative holds the potential for reduced transportation emissions and stricter domestic regulations.  Encouraging technology transfer of sustainable manufacturing practices and prioritizing “green” solutions in future revisions of the DAP could significantly improve the environmental footprint of defence acquisition.
  • Ethical Considerations:  The robust anti-corruption measures like the Integrity Pact are commendable. However, fostering a culture of transparency beyond legal mandates is crucial.  Encouraging industry-wide ethical codes and promoting whistle-blower protection mechanisms could further strengthen ethical conduct within the acquisition process.

By continuously evaluating and refining the DAP, India can ensure a defence procurement system that prioritizes national security, economic self-reliance, environmental responsibility, and ethical conduct in a balanced and sustainable manner.







King Stubb & Kasiva,
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