The history and development of Indian Ordnance Factories is directly linked with the British reign in India. East India company of England for their economic interest in India and to increase their political hold considered military hardware as vital element. During 1775 British authorities accepted the establishment of Board of Ordnance in Fort William, Kolkata. This marks the official beginning of the Army Ordnance in India.
In 1787 a gun powder factory was established at Ishapore which started production from 1791 ( at which location Rifle Factory was established in 1904). In 1801 a Gun Carriage Agency at Cossipore, Kolkata (presently known as Gun & Shell Factory, Cossipore) was eatablished and production started from 18th March, 1802. This is the first Industrial establishment of Ordnance Factories which has continued its existence till date.
Growth of Indian Ordnance Factories
The growth of the Ordnance Factories leading to its present setup has been continuous but in spurts. There were 18 ordnance factories before India became independent in 1947. 21 factories have been established after independence - mostly, in wake of defence preparedness imperatives caused by the three major wars fought by the Indian Armed forces. 40th Factory is under establishment at Nalanda, Bihar.
Corporatisation of Indian Ordnance Factories
As decided by the Union Cabinet on 16th June, 2021, the Government of India has decided to corporatise the functions of the 41 production units (Ordnance Factories) of the Ordnance Factory Board (“OFB”), functioning under the Department of Defence Production, Ministry of Defence (“DDP”). The Government of India has decided to transfer, with effect from 1st October, 2021 , the management, control, operations and maintenance of 41 production units and identified non-production units to 7 Government companies wholly owned by the Government of India.
In pursuance of the decision of the Union Cabinet on 16th June, 2021, the Government of India has also decided to form a Directorate of Ordnance (Coordination & Services) (“Directorate”) under the Department of Defence Production (“DDP”) with effect from 1st October, 2021, as a replacement to the current Ordnance Factory Board (“OFB”) Head Quarter.
Main events in the evolution of Ordnance Factory can be listed as below:
- 1801 - Establishment of Gun Carriage Agency at Cossipore, Kolkata.
- 1802 - Production started from 18th March 1802 at Cossipore.
- 1906 - The Administration of Indian Ordnance Factories came under a separate charge as 'IG of Ordnance Factories'.
- 1933 - Charged to 'Director of Ordnance Factories'.
- 1948 - Placed under direct control of Ministry of Defence.
- 1962 - Dept. of Defence Production was set up at Ministry of Defence.
- 1979 - Ordnance Factory Board came into existence from 2nd April.
- 2021 - Ordnance Factory Board dissolved and coverted to 7 DPSUs from 1st October.