A major fire at the central ammunition depot (CAD) in Maharashtra that broke out early on Tuesday morning has killed at least 20 personnel, including 18 Defence Security Corps jawans and two officers, and has injured 19 others.
The arms depot at Pulgaon (110 km from Nagpur) is the country's largest and houses the biggest stockpile of weapons. Stocks from various factories come here first and is then distributed to various other areas. The depot, which is also Asia's second largest ammunition centre, according to a report in NDTV, has the highest level of security.
Even as Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis directed district officials to extend whatever help possible, tweeted ANI, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to take stock of situation in Pulgaon.
We are providing whatever assistance and resources required, primarily medical assistance: Devendra Fadnavis pic.twitter.com/f0bizNmxsG
— ANI (@ANI_news) May 31, 2016
But, the more important question here is what makes CAD so important?
The Hindu reported that the depot, besides storing ammunition reserves, is also involved in demilitarising or disposing the ammunition, after its expiry date. This is naturally a dangerous process and is usually done in open spaces where the demolition explosives are employed, as accidents are common.
A report by the Ministry of Defence said that apart from the CAD in Pulgaon, there are 14 others located in different parts of the country.
A March 2013 report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India on Ammunition Management in Army, explained that the Director General Ordnance Services (DGOS) at the Army Headquarters (AHQ) is responsible for the overall management of ammunition in the Army and carries out the annual provisioning and procurement. Most of the ammunition is procured from the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and to meet this requirement ten factories of Ammunition and Explosives Group, under OFB, are engaged in production of ammunition and explosives.
Where does the CAD at Pulgaon figure in all this?
The report added that the Pulgaon depot is responsible for the all-India supply of ammunition and explosives after receiving them from agencies including Ordnance Factories, trade sources and issuing items to ammunition depots or field ammunition depots for replenishing their stocks.
Updated Date: May 31, 2016 13:06:51 IST