A week after the centre gave the Army a free hand to procure arms and ammunition and allocated Rs40,000 crore for procuring critical weapon systems and military platforms to maintain combat readiness for short duration "intense wars", the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has revealed that the military does not have enough ammunition to fight any war beyond 10 days.
The CAG report of critical ammunition shortage comes amidst the stand-off with China in the Sikkim border and the ongoing skirmishes in the western border with Pakistan.
The CAG report slammed the defence establishment for dismal failure to manage ammunition supplies to the Army, saying there was total "disregard" of the policy to hold ammunition for 40 days of "intense" fighting. "In 50 per cent of the types of ammunition, the holding was critical or less than 10 days in March 2013," reports quoting the CAG report said.
"Shortfall in meeting the production target by OFB [Ordnance Factories Board ] continued. Further, a majority of the procurement cases from other than OFB, which were initiated by Army headquarters during 2009-13 were pending as of January 2017," the CAG said in the report.
The government auditor also blasted the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for importing a balloon costing Rs6.20 crore under a failed project for development of aerostat surveillance system.
"The project itself did not achieve its objective despite an expenditure of Rs49.50 crore," the CAG observed.
Besides, the CAG report pointed to the lack of safety measures at the ammunition depots, which have no fire-fighting staff or equipment.
The report also highlighted alleged irregularities and inefficiencies by various other entities relating to defence services.
The CAG also criticised the heavy vehicle factory in Avadi in Tamil Nadu for delays in supply of T-72 bridge laying tanks (BLT), which were scheduled to be delivered in a phased manner during 2012-2017. The auditor blamed frequent changes in the design of T-72 BLT for the delay in the project.
The Heavy Vehicle Factory (HVF) also faced CAG fire for placing an order for radiators to be fitted in T-90 tanks on a firm, which had no prior experience of manufacturing them. "The factory accepted radiators worth Rs2.78 crore, which did not conform to the stipulated technical requirements and rendered T-90 tanks fitted with such radiators unacceptable to Army," the CAG said.
The report also said the director general, National Cadet Corps gave contracts to overhaul 34 engines of microlite aircraft at a cost exceeding 50 per cent of the cost of a new engine, in deviation from the laid down procedure. "Further, additional 110 micro-lite aircraft were procured at a cost of Rs52.91 crore despite low utilisation of the existing fleet," it said.
The CAG blamed the Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE), Avadi for procuring 20 LAHAT missiles in spite of reservation of the foreign supplier due to technical constraints. "During demonstration trials, the missiles failed to achieve the stipulated criteria / range of 1200M to 1500M. Army refused to accept the missile, thereby the payment of Rs19.53 crore made to the supplier was rendered infructuous," it said.
The CAG also came down hard on the Army's director general of military intelligence for alleged violations of procedure in the procurement of 20 photo write systems and said 11 of them became non-functional within 3 to 22 months of procurement resulting in loss of Rs21.28 crore.
The report also pointed out that despite an Ammunition Road Map being approved by the centre to bring the stock level up to 50 per cent by March 2015, no case of procurement of ammunition had culminated into contract.