Defense Minister Arun Jaitley has said that the Indian armed forces are “reasonably and sufficiently equipped” to protect the sovereignty of the country.
Jaitley’s statement came in response to the issue of defense preparation of India as a report by Comptroller and Auditor General last week indicated that the stock of ammunition with Indian Army, especially tanks and artillery, would last for only up to 10 days in a situation of a full-scale war.
According to the recent media reports, the CAG report that was presented before the Parliament last week pointed out that the stock of armory with Indian Army was found to be unsatisfactory.
The report stated that the Army is facing acute shortage of ammunition. 40 per cent, that is 61 out of the 152 types of ammunition available with the outfit would last for less than 10 days if it fights a war.
The CAG report also highlighted that sufficient measures have not been taken after 2013 to upgrade the stock of arms and ammunition with the army. The stock of ammunition that the army should ideally be holding should last for 40 days in situations of intense war.
Samajwadi Party leader, Ramgopal Yadav, in the Rajya Sabha meeting on Tuesday said that the shortage was a serious issue as the country is going through tensions on the border with China as well as Pakistan.
There have been consistent terror attacks in several areas of Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistan. China, on the other hand, has been maintaining persistent tensions with India at Doklam in Sikkim.
Congress leader, Ripun Bora, said that the major decisions on procurement of arms taken by the previous government between 2009 and 2013 haven’t yet been approved by the present government. Bora further pointed out that a Rs. 16,500 crore plan formulated by the Ministry of Defense is yet to be implemented. He also stated that the condition of the Indian Navy is “very bad” with as many as 38 accidents having taken place in the past few years.
However, Arun Jaitley said that the report was given in 2013 and another report has recently been submitted as a follow up of that report.
The Defense Minister stated that the reference to shortage of ammunition as per CAG report is in relation to a point of time. Jaitley said that significant progress has been made subsequently thereafter and there has been a simplification in the process of procurement of arms and ammunition. Jaitley also stated that powers have now been decentralized and the armed forces of India are now reasonably and sufficiently equipped.
Jaitley told the house that the power to directly procure 46 types of ammunition required in fighting short and “intense” wars have been delegated to Vice Chief of Army and now the Army doesn’t need to go to the Defense Ministry for those arms.
Last year, after there was a terrorist attack on an army base in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir, on September 18, 2016, emergency procurement of Rs. 20,000 crore worth of weaponry was approved by the ministry.
Congress leader Anand Sharma, though, maintained that the decision to decentralize procurement of arms was a recent one and said that the government hasn’t done anything on this front in the last three years. Taking a dig at the former Defense Minister, Manohar Parrikar, Sharma said that he was a “non-performer”.