As the drone dropping of weapons and drugs into J&K from across the International Border grows into a major security challenge, strict compliance of the amended general financial rules (GFRs) is likely to come handy in checking the menace.
Rule 144 of the GFRs 2017 entitled ‘Fundamental Principles of Public Buying’ has been amended by inserting sub-rule (xi) which reads, “Notwithstanding anything contained in these rules, department of Expenditure may, by order in writing, impose restrictions, including prior registration and/or screening on procurement from bidders from a country or countries, or a class of countries, on grounds of defence of India or matters directly or indirectly related thereto including national security; no procurement shall be made in violation of such restrictions.”
The larger implication of this amendment means no contractor is allowed to sub-contract works.
The amended rule will impose strict restrictions on goods and services imported from neighbouring countries like Pakistan, China, Afghanistan, Mayanmar, Nepal and Bangladesh.
The renewed focus on drones and the Chinese balloon over the US has brought to fore a major loophole in the security system in J&K and the rest of the country.
There is a large and unchecked boom of foreign goods, especially those from China and Pakistan into J&K.
Experts fear that any invisible chip in such items like cell phones and other appliances could relay information to be picked up by drones or spy balloons and satellites of neighbouring countries.
“This is a major chink in the armour of our national security. The lability of the bidder would ultimately vanish through sub-contracts as no concrete checks and balances were available in the GFRs till rule 144 was amended with the insertion of sub-rule (xi).
“The amended rule provides that a certificate shall be taken from bidders in the tender documents regarding their compliance with this order.
“If such a certificate given by a bidder whose bid is accepted is found to be false, this would be ground for immediate termination and further legal action in accordance with the law. This, according to experts, can totally stonewall any relay of crucial information picked up by cell phones and other gadgets that could be the spy gadgets of the enemy,” said an expert on the subject.
In the context of a militancy ravaged territory like J&K, strict compliance of amended GFR is the only way out to protect the national security from being compromised.