NEW DELHI: Months after a report by the United Nations flagged critical issue of weapons and military hardware used by the Indian troops deployed in the peacekeeping missions, the Army headquarters has decided to keep all such purchases on fast track mode.
After being highlighted the issue by the UN Missions, approvals have been given to procure infantry combat vehicles, UAVs and other military platforms for more than 7600 troops from Indian army, who are deployed in various UN peace operations in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Lebanon, Liberia, the Middle East, South Sudan, Sudan and the Western Sahara.
Taking cognizance of the matter, the Vice Chief of the Army Lt. General Sarath Chand, who looks after the procurements, has been approved full financial powers to make emergency purchases for the required equipment and platforms for Indian troops serving in various conflict-ridden places including in Congo and South Sudan. According to official that in fact, lack of purchases led to held back a reimbursement amount of Rs 338 crore. The UN also pointed out that approved money was being paid to India for weaponry procurements which were in poor condition and recommended cutting the payment.
According to official source, a total of 58 cases of procurement, of worth Rs 120 crore, have already been processed while supply order for 11 items have been placed including Army is also procuring new kits for the troops which will cost it around Rs 103 crore annually.
It is noted that the UN pays around Rs 1,000 crore to India for its contribution to the peacekeeping missions.
Explaining the procedures, an official said that troop-contributing countries have to provide weapons as well as other required military platforms and equipment to their forces in the locations identified for deployment as "wet lease" while the world body provides weapons and other required equipment in "dry lease" areas. And the UN reimburses the troops contributing countries as per categories of deployment.
Easing out the procurement process, army headquarters has also agreed to buy new equipment at a place of deployment of the personnel to make system more ‘responsive’.
India is the largest cumulative troop contributor, having provided almost 200,000 troops in nearly 50 of the 71 peacekeeping missions mandated over the past six decades, including 13 of the current 16 missions. So far, about 168 Indian troops have made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty under the UN Flag.