Army intelligence units running low on fuel
By N C Bipindra | Published: 25th November 2013 01:52 AM |
As if recent leaks on the Army’s covert operations in Jammu and Kashmir were not enough, its relatively small number of Military Intelligence (MI) operatives’ mobility has now been crippled by the government’s budgetary prudence measures, which have involved fuel cuts.
According to MI sources, the Army’s logistics wing has been asked by the Union Defence Ministry, on instructions from the Finance Ministry, to reduce its fuel, oil and lubricants (FOL in Army parlance) use by over 40 per cent. This move, sources in the Armed Forces said, was a result of an audit recommendation and has resulted in lower budgetary allocation for fuel in the 2013-14 defence budget of just over `2 lakh crore.
The instructions, communicated to all MI units in the Army formations, has resulted in a corresponding cut in the MI’s quota of fuel, despite the critical nature of the operatives’ work in bringing valuable information from its sources all along India’s 15,000-km border with neighbours, both friendly and inimical.
“As a result of this, each of the MI units operating along India’s borders with the neighbouring nations has been allocated only 10 litres of fuel, primarily petrol, a day for their field work,” an operative told Expresss.
The result is MI’s operational units in troubled states such as Jammu and Kashmir and in the North-east are facing huge mobility issues with their per day fuel use quota reduced by half from the previous 20 litres.
Intelligence gathering by the MI operatives is what leads to offensive and defensive operations by the fighting troopers to capture or eliminate terrorists and military harming India, its interests and citizens.
The Army has an MI unit along the borders with all its key adversaries --China shares 4,057-km and Pakistan 2,900-km border with India.
Along these borders are deployed the Army’s existing 13 Corps, of which three are offensive strike corps and the rest 10 are defensive ones, with each having about 50,000 personnel.
Each of these formations have MI units, but the number of personnel is only a fraction of the total-less than 50 personnel in each unit under the corps headquarters. These MI units, sources said, use less than five Maruti Gypsy or similar vehicles that have 40-litre fuel tanks. These vehicles provide an average mileage of less than 10 km per litre of automotive fuel.
“Since the unit can use only 10 litres of fuel a day, we are forced to ration it or just stop using the vehicles. Imagine, we have to cover several thousands of kilometres to keep the borders safe by collecting human intelligence, which are the most reliable,” another MI operative said.
However, a senior MI officer in the Army headquarters said the control on fuel expenditure was not only for his directorate, but across the entire 11.1-lakh strong Army.