If India were to go to war now, 90 per cent of its available ammunition would not last even for 10 days, inferred the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in a report tabled in Parliament on Friday. It said the ammunition roadmap drawn by the Army in 2012 for building up the stock to 50 per cent by March 2015 and 100 per cent by 2019 has remained far from realisation.
Coming down heavily on the Defence Ministry, the Army, ordnance factories and quality assurance agencies, the report highlighted that while the Army blamed the Ordnance Factories Board (OFB) for delays and slippage, the OFB asked for lesser money from the government than what was required to meet the Army’s projections. Seventeen of the import projects initiated in 2013 have not been concluded so far, the national auditor said.
As reported earlier, the Army had told a Parliamentary panel that the mountain strike corps was being raised by using ammunition from War Wastage Reserve (WWR).
According to the report, however, only 10 per cent of the ammunition is available to meet a 40-day WWR.
Further, 84 per cent of the high caliber ammunition of the country was “critical” — meaning of quantity that could last for just about 10 days.
The report has blamed the shortage on the inability of the Ordnance Factories Board to meet the demand of the Army as well as the delays in imports. It has highlighted that the minimum acceptable risk level (MARL) — which benchmarks a minimum availability of ammunition for 20 days and was set by the Army HQ in 1999 after the Kargil war — has not been achieved even 15 years later.
For the reviewed period of 2009-2013, the types of critical ammunition increased from 15 per cent in March 2009 to 50 per cent in March 2013.
The comprehensive report that examined 69 types of ammunition, the inability of the ordnance factories to meet the projected requirements by the Army was one of the reasons for the depleting ammunition ratios.
For instance, the OFB has been consistently meeting only between 63-72 per cent of the Army’s annual projected ammunition requirements.
The report has blamed the OFB for projecting lesser budgetary requirement from the government than what was needed to meet the targets given by the Army. It also said that close to Rs 94 crore worth of ammunition/components manufactured by the ordnance factories were rejected by the quality testing agencies, thus adding to the shortage.
According to the report, nine cases initiated to procure the ammunition from import/trade were delayed due to single vendor situation, complexities in transfer of technology, finalisation of requirements by the Army HQ and delays in receiving bids.
Interestingly, ammunition worth Rs 3,578 crore was lying in segregated condition even as ammunition worth Rs 2,109 crore was awaiting repairs.