NEW DELHI: Defence minister Arun Jaitley Friday sought to put a spin on the adverse report filed by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on the availability of ammunition to the nation’s army.
He said in the Lok Sabha that the auditor’s observations pertained only to a particular period, and any shortage of arms and ammunition would be expeditiously made up.
However, Jaitley parried an MP’s query as to what was the quantum of shortage in spares and ammo.
Putting those figures out in the public domain would not in the public interest, he said.
The CAG report on the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), tabled in Parliament last week, had pointed out critical deficiencies: 80 per cent of the stock of ammo was way below the authorised level needed to keep the force ready for war; and no significant improvement had been made in the availability of ammunition in the last four years.
The CAG report said, “Out of a total 152 types of ammunition, the stock of 121 types of ammunition (80%) was below the authorised level. 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.”
Jaitley was not too forthcoming either on the action he proposed to take now to bridge the gap pointed out by the auditor.
The defence minister said that as per procedure, the CAG reports go to the Public Accounts Committee and if the latter makes some recommendations, then action would be taken.
“If any action is to be taken, it will be taken,” he said.
In relation to other issues, Jaitley’s junior minister Subhash Bhamre said no ordnance factory would be closed down and no one would be rendered unemployed.
On strategic partnerships in the defence sector, Jaitley said it was aimed at institutionalising a transparent, objective and functional mechanism to encourage participation of the private sector in defence equipment production.
Moreover, the government has approved a proposal to manufacture ammunition for the army by Indian companies.