Barmer, Sep 10: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman discarded the findings of a recent Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report on shortage of army ammunition, calling it “factually incorrect”.
Sitharaman’s remarks came on Sunday, when she addressed the press after visiting the Uttarlai Air Force Base here. On being asked about the CAG report which said the forces do not have enough ammo to last more than 10 days in case of a full blown conflict, she replied, “The facts (in the report) were wrong. It is unnecessary to debate on the issue.”
The newly appointed Defence Minister further claimed that she took stock of the situation after being appointed, to ascertain the accuracy of the warning issued by the audit body. “After taking the charge of defence ministry, I have discussed the issue with senior officers and experts. Purchasing weapons…is a continuous process,” she added.
The CAG findings, tabled before the Parliament in July this year, created a political storm in the House, with the Opposition seeking the Defence Minister’s explanation. Sitharaman’s predecessor Arun Jaitley had then told the Rajya Sabha that the findings of the audit report pertained to a “particular point of time”.
“Thereafter significant process has been made. It is a continuous process. Therefore, nobody should have any doubt about the availability of equipment or the preparedness of our forces,” Jaitley had said.
The CAG report had flagged the slow pace of arms procurement, along with the unsatisfactory performance of the state-run Ordnance Factory Board.
“No significant improvement took place in the critical deficiency in availability and quality of ammunition since March 2013,” the audit body had remarked.
In case of an ‘intense war’, it claimed, 55 percent of the incumbent ammo stock would fail to meet the the minimum operational requirement, whereas, the remaining 45 per cent would last for only 10 days.
As per the operational requirements target set for 2019, the Army should be equipped with ammunition which could last for a minimum 40 days in case of an intense war.