New Delhi, September 30, 2020: At a time when the Indian Army is in a state of conflict on the border with China, an internal report in the army has raised many questions.
In the last six years, the army could have got about 100 artillery guns in the amount of bad ammunition purchased from the Government Ordnance Factory Board for Rs 960 crores.
This claim has been made in a report under the army, which has been submitted to the Ministry of Defence. The poor quality ammunition that has been purchased between 2014 and 2020 amounts to 960 crores. At such a price, 150-mm medium artillery guns could have been made available to the army.
The Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) is operated under the Ministry of Defence and is one of the oldest government ordnance production units in the world. Under this, ammunition is made for the army, which has been criticized by the army.
Products found to contain flaws include bullets of different calibre including 23-mm air defence shells, artillery shells, and 125 mm tank rounds.
The army report claimed that this poor quality ammunition has not only resulted in the loss of money, but also human damage in many incidents. In this report, it has been claimed that the incidents and human damage caused by the production of poor quality ammunition, on an average are one in a week.
This internal report claimed that since 2014, there have been 403 incidents due to poor quality ammunition, although these incidents have decreased continuously this is still worrying.
2014 – 114 events
2017 – 53
2018 – 78
2019 – 16
The report has been submitted to the Ministry of Defence.
About 27 soldiers have died in these incidents while around 159 soldiers have been injured. There have been 13 incidents so far this year, though no one has died.
Of these Rs 960 crore purchases, Rs 658 crore was spent on the shelf between 2014-2019, while the remaining amount worth up to Rs 303 crore were scrapped after the fire in Maharashtra.
In the last two years, the private sector has been taken on behalf of the army, so that the supply of ammunition can be kept on their behalf. However, there is still a need to try out completely to increase supply in private companies like the OFB.
Earlier this month, MGO Lieutenant General Upadhyay, who was looking into the consumption of ammunition in the army said that the army is getting supplies from OFB, but at the same time, there is a need to put in place a system that works differently than that. Even if it is not yet of that capacity, it is necessary to start.
However, efforts are constantly being made by the Central Government to change the OFB. Recently, an agency has been asked to prepare a framework to change it, so that it can be modernized. On the other hand, efforts are being made to complete the supply of ammunition from small and big private companies. At a time when tensions with China remain at the border, questioning the quality and quantity of ammunition can be a matter of concern.