Soldiers In Siachen, Ladakh Lack Essential Gear, Clothing And Rations: CAG Report Reveals Shocking Details
Soldiers posted at the world's highest battlefield have been forced to go without adequate ration and proper high-altitude clothing, the CAG report informed the Parliament.
In response to an audit report released by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) criticising the delay in procurement of special clothing for troops serving at high altitude areas, Army Chief, General Manoj Mukund Naravane, on Tuesday said that the report is a "little outdated" as it pertains to 2015-16.
"Army is very well prepared today," he claimed.
In the report released by the CAG, it was revealed that the soldiers deployed at high-altitude areas such as Siachen and Ladakh lacked sufficient essential gear, clothing and ration between the period of 2015-'16 to 2017-'18.
Soldiers posted at the world's highest battlefield have been forced to go without adequate ration and proper high-altitude clothing, the CAG report informed the Parliament.It was found that the troops used old items and lack of special ration reduced their calorie intake by 82%. Supply of high-altitude clothing and equipment was delayed by around four years, the report found.
Among Special Clothing and Mountaineering Equipment, a critical shortage of 62% to 98% in snow goggles was reported. "The troops were not issued multi-purpose boots from November 2015 to September 2016 and had to resort to the recycling of available boots," the report told the parliament on Monday.
"Further, old versions of items such as face mask, jacket and sleeping bags were procured which deprived the troops of the benefits of using improved products. Lack of research and development by defence laboratory led to continued dependence on import," the report revealed.
The CAG report also informed that a huge quantity of life-saving and essential items with an expired shelf life was issued to troops.
Pointing at insufficient special ration, the report said, "substitutes in lieu of scaled items were authorised on 'cost-to-cost' basis, which resulted in the supply of a reduced quantity of substitutes," the report said. "At Leh station in one instance, it was noticed that the special ration items were shown as issued to troops for consumption without their actual receipt."
The report also said that a project for improving housing conditions in the high-altitude area and extant climate conditions was executed in "an ad hoc manner."
"In the first two phases of pilot project extensive summer/winter trials were conducted," the audit report said, adding, "The third phase constituted a confirmatory trial, at a cost of Rs 63.65 crore. This was avoidable since the first two phases were exhaustive."
"Further, the sanction by the competent authority for the main project was not obtained," the report added. "Handing over assets created under a pilot project to the units got delayed much beyond the stipulated time frame, depriving users of resources which were already scant in challenging climatic conditions. There were discrepancies between the assets shown in Numerical Asset Register and assets on the ground."
The CAG report raised concerns over the delay in setting up of the Indian National Defence University in Haryana's Gurugram recommended by the Kargil Review Committee. It claimed that there is an unnecessary bureaucratic delay in completing the project.
The audit report also questioned the defence ministry for losses worth ₹25.48 crores due to delayed lease renewals for defence land.