NEW DELHI: Soldiers posted on the world’s highest battlefield have been forced to go without adequate ration and proper high-altitude clothing, said the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in a report tabled in Parliament on Monday.
Pulling up the Army for delays in procurement of snow goggles, multipurpose boots and other high-altitude clothing and equipment (HACE) for the troops posted in areas such as Ladakh and Siachen, the CAG report said the soldiers were forced to use old and recycled versions.
Inadequate supply of special ration for the troops affected their calorie intake by as much as 82 per cent, it further said.
The audit findings of provisioning and procurement of from 2015-16 to 2017-18 stated, “There were delays in procurement of high altitude clothing and equipment items up to four years leading to acute shortage…There was a critical shortage in snow goggles ranging from 62 per cent to 98 per cent.”
The troops were not issued ‘multi-purpose boots’ from November 2015 to September 2016 and had to resort to the recycling of available boots.
Further, old versions of items such as face mask, jacket and sleeping bags were procured which deprived the troops from the benefits of using improved products, the CAG stated.
In the case of specialised ration, there was a major compromise in calorie intake, the auditor said.
The CAG has also questioned the government for the “inordinate delay” in the establishment of the Indian National Defence University, which was recommended by the Kargil review committee in 1999.
It has pulled up the defence ministry for losses to the tune of Rs 25.48 crore due to delayed lease renewals for defence land.
Short supply of clothing, equipment
Deficiency of 24 to 100 per cent and 41 to 100 per cent in Extreme Cold Clothing and Equipment (SCCE) at two depots, where the Northern Command’s Army Headquarters Reserve of such items is stocked.
Deficiency ranging from 15 to 98 per cent in 18 items of the Special Clothing and Mountaineering Equipment (SCME), such as head cap, socks, sleeping bag and face mask, for very high altitude areas such as Siachen.