NEW DELHI: The Indian Army’s bid to procure indigenously manufactured high-altitude equipment and clothing for its troops in the mountainous parts seems to be gasping for air.
The Army had floated the proposal to choose indigenous manufacturers in order to cut down on import costs by as much as Rs 2.5 crore every six months. About 40,000 soldiers deployed in high altitude duties at various locations.
There is a turnaround every six months thus keeping the requirement of equipment almost perpetual for the force.The force needs lightweight clothing with thermal effectiveness to be able to handle temperatures as low as -10°C.
Given the weather conditions and the toll they can take on the physical health of the soldiers, Army brass has laid down strict guidelines, said an officer who was privy to discussions in the matter. Several product line-ups have since then been tested in the field. These include gear such as carabiners, rock pitons, summer suits, ascenders and descenders and also an avalanche victim detector.
Of the eight products put up for trials, only two were found meeting the Army’s standards. The force then held another meeting with companies in December 2018 to invite fresh bids and look into the latest technology.
The equipment purchased will primarily be deployed for soldiers stationed in Siachen, Drass, Kargil Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. “We aim to save around `2.5 crore every six months. Also, we wish to promote Indian companies. The Army, as of now, imports specialised gear from Switzerland, Norway, Finland apart from other countries,” said another Army official.