New Delhi: Public accounts watchdog CAG today pulled up the Defence Ministry on the issue of ammunition management in Army, saying acute shortage of ammunition was a serious cause of concern directly impairing the operational readiness of the force.
“While availability of authorised stock against War Wastage Reserve (WWR) to meet the expected duration of operation formed the basic criteria for ensuring the operational readiness of the Army, we found during the review that against the WWR of 40 (I) days, the availability of ammunition was only in 10 per cent of the total types of ammunition held (March 2013).
“Further, in 50 per cent of the total types of ammunition, the holding was ‘critical’ i.e., less than 10 (I) days,” the Comptroller & Auditor General of India said in its report tabled in Parliament today.
The CAG said it observed that the overall holding had been continuously depleting over the years and was more prominent in high calibre ammunition, adding the percentage of high calibre ammunition, which was critical, ranged up to 84 per cent during the five years period of audit.
“To tide over the persistent acute shortages, the AHQ had set (1999) a minimum threshold of MARL (Minimum Acceptable Risk Level) 20 (I) days to be achieved first. We found that even after 15 years, the threshold of MARL could not be achieved. The acute shortage was a serious cause of concern directly impairing the operational readiness of the Army,” It said.
According to CAG , the inability of OFB to meet the demand of Army was a major cause for shortage of ammunition.
“OFB, which had a limited production capacity vis-a-vis the requirement of Army, accepted the targets for supply of ammunition covered under the Roll on Indent in mutual consultation with AHQ. It however, failed to supply the accepted quantities, and there was shortfall in 54 to 73 per cent types of ammunition.
“Shortfall in production capacity by the OFB was further compounded by high rate of RFR. In 71 out of 123 instances examined during audit, the percentage of items returned for rectification ranged from 20 to 100 per cent,” the CAG report said.
“We found that due to manufacturing defects ammunition worth Rs 1,618 crore was lying rejected in depots. Further, ammunition worth Rs 814 crore was declared unserviceable within shelf life due to its poor quality,” the report said.
“Overall serviceability state of the ammunition revealed that 17.5 per cent of total quantity of ammunition held was lying in segregated, repairable and unserviceable condition (March 2013). During the period covered in audit, ammunition worth Rs 3,578 crore was lying in segregated condition, due to delay in timely investigation.
“Further ammunition worth Rs 2,109 crore was lying in repairable condition due to routine failure of OFB in supply of repair components,” the report said, adding timely sentencing and repair of these ammunition would have improved the serviceability state of ammunition holding.
“Given the persistent shortfall in availability of authorised reserves, (Defence) Ministry should devise an objective and realistic mechanism, duly considering the capacity of ordnance factories, availability of budget and inescapable requirement of the Army to ensure that the operational requirements of the Army are fully met,” the CAG said in one of its several recommendations on the issue.