Even as the Indian Army faces off with the Chinese Army at Doka La, it has been hit by a scathing report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) who has raised issues of critical shortages in ammunition. The CAG has slammed the state-run Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and said that of the 152 types of ammunition used, 40 percent would run out in less than 10 days, according to NDTV.
Another 55 percent of the ammunition was below the Minimum Acceptable Risk Level (MARL). MARL is the minimum amount of ammunition which has to be maintained at all times using which the army can fight for 20 days, said another report in The Economic Times.
In the report which was tabled in the Parliament on Friday, the CAG also criticised the OFB for inadequate quality of ammunition supplied to the Army since March 2013.
It also pointed out that the stock of fuzes for the artillery ammunition was at 17 percent, according to The Indian Express. Fuze is considered to be the brain of the artillery ammunition which is fitted to the shell just before assembly/firing. This deficiency means that 83 percent of the high caliber artillery ammunition held by the army will be useless in an operation.
The Indian Express report further said that according to the government orders in force, the army is supposed to have ammunition for 40 days of intense war fighting. However, the report shows that as of September 2016, only 20 percent, i.e. 31 out of 152 types of ammunition will last in a 40-day war.
The CAG said despite serious concerns highlighted in a high-level report on 'Ammunition management in Army' in 2015, no significant improvement took place in the critical deficiency in the availability of ammunition and quality of ammunition supplied by the OFB.
"Shortfall in meeting the production target by OFB continued. Further, a majority of the procurement cases from other than OFB which were initiated by Army headquarters during 2009-13 were pending as of January 2017," the CAG said in the report.
The federal auditor also lambasted defence research and development organisation (DRDO) for import a balloon costing Rs 6.20 crore under a project for development of aerostat surveillance system, saying it lacked rationale.
"Further, the project itself did not achieve its objective despite an expenditure of Rs 49.50 crore," the CAG observed.
Talking about safety aspects, the federal auditor said ammunition depots with a shortage of fire-fighting staff and equipment remained accident prone.
The report also highlighted alleged irregularities and inefficiencies by various other entities relating to defence services.
The CAG also criticised the heavy vehicle factory in Avadi in Tamil Nadu for delays in supply of T-72 bridge laying tanks (BLT) which were scheduled to be delivered in a phased manner during 2012-2017. The auditor blamed frequent changes in the design of T-72 BLT for the delay in the project.
The heavy vehicle's factory (HVF) also faced criticism from the CAG for placing an order for radiators to be fitted in T-90 tanks on a firm which had no prior experience of manufacturing them. "The factory accepted radiators worth Rs 2.78 crore which did not conform to the stipulated technical requirements and rendered T-90 tanks fitted with such radiators unacceptable to Army," the CAG said.
The report also said the director general, National Cadet Corps gave contracts to overhaul 34 engines of microlite aircraft at a cost exceeding 50 percent of the cost of a new engine, in deviation from the laid down procedure. "Further, additional 110 micro-lite aircraft were procured at a cost of Rs 52.91 crore despite low utilisation of the existing fleet," it said.
The auditor also took strong note of the Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE), Avadi procuring 20 LAHAT missiles in spite of reservation of the foreign supplier due to technical constraints. "During demonstration trials, the missiles failed to achieve the stipulated criteria/range of 1200M to 1500M. Army refused to accept the missile, thereby the payment of Rs 19.53 crore made to the supplier was rendered infructuous," it said.
In another finding, the CAG came down hard on the army's director general military intelligence for alleged violations of procedure in the procurement of 20 numbers of photo write systems and said 11 of them became non-functional within 3 to 22 months of procurement resulting in loss of Rs 21.28 crore.
The report also pointed out that despite an Ammunition Road Map being approved by the Centre to bring the stock level up to 50 percent by March 2015, no case of procurement of ammunition had culminated into contract, according to The Economic Times.
With inputs from PTI
Your guide to the latest election news, analysis, commentary, live updates and schedule for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on firstpost.com/elections. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram or like our Facebook page for updates from all 543 constituencies for the upcoming general elections.
Updated Date: Jul 22, 2017 10:29:45 IST