NEW DELHI: While the Indian army is engaged in a month-long standoff with the Chinese army on the Sikkim border amidst heightened tension with Pakistan, the country’s premier auditor has highlighted the plight of ammunition in the army, as 80 per cent of its stock is way below the authorised level to help keep the force prepared for war.
Just last week, the government had allowed the army to make ‘emergency procurements’ without going through red-tape to be prepared for a ‘short intense war’.
In the report tabled in Parliament on Friday, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has come out with startling revelations that no significant improvement has been made in the availability of ammunition in the last four years, despite recommendations.
“Out of a total of 152 types of ammunition, the stock of 121 types of ammunition (80%) was below the authorization level of days. And availability of 55 per cent types of ammunition was below the minimum inescapable requirement to be maintained for operational preparedness and 40 per cent types of ammunitions were critical level having stock of less than 10 days,” CAG observed.
The CAG also pointed the more alarming state of the availability of high-calibre ammunition relating to tanks and artillery. “Moreover, in the absence of fuze, 83 per cent of these high-calibre ammunitions presently held with the army were not in a state to be used in operation,” the CAG stated.
The CAG report is a performance report of its own report of 2015, on “Ammunition Management in Army” and the auditor analysed the availability of WWR ammunition in the army from 2013-14 to 2016-17 (September 2016).
The War Wastage Reserve (WWR) is the reserve to meet the requirements for the expected duration of operations. The Defence Ministry approved authorisation of WWR as 40 days of intense period or 40(I). In 1999, Army introduced Minimum Acceptable Risk Level (MARL), a bottom line requirement of 20(I) days considered as minimum requirement of ammunition to be maintained at all times to meet operational preparedness.
Summarising the findings, the CAG said in the report: “Thus, despite lapse of more than three years (from March 2013) no significant improvement in availability of WWR ammunition was noticed in audit. Further, the stock levels of a majority of high-calibre ammunition relating to AFV and artillery, meant for sustaining superior fire power, remained under critical level.”
On the efforts to procure ammunition, the CAG noted that there was no significant improvement in critical deficiency in the availability and quality of ammunition supplied by the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) since March 2013.