PAC seeks details of defence preparedness on war scenario

PAC seeks details of defence preparedness on war scenario

A Parliamentary panel, which reviewed the controversial hasty procurement of ammunition and other supplies for Kargil war launched in 1999, has underlined the need for an adequate stockpile of requirements for future forced war scenario.

A subcommittee of Public Accounts Committee headed by BJD's B Mahtab in its report adopted on Wednesday also recommended the defence ministry to furnish details of defence preparedness of the armed forces for a “possible future war” and the actions taken by the ministry to obviate the need for such hasty procurement in the event of another similar situation being forced on the country.

A report of the CAG had in 2001 pointed out financial improprieties in the purchase of emergency weaponry and allied purchases for Operation Vijay (launched to flush out Pakistani intruders in Kargil).

The report had kicked up a storm with Opposition parties then raising demands for the resignation of then Defence Minister of NDA George Fernandes.

The PAC subcommittee report concluded that the whole controversy over hasty procurements for the war that necessitated relaxations of norms and procedures and led to excess expenditure, procurement of substandard or vintage armaments and ammunition, could have been avoided had the defence preparedness of the armed forces been ensured by way of an adequate stockpile of requirements.

The panel also asked the ministry to furnish details of actions taken post-Operation Vijay to strengthen indigenisation of defence production in the country, especially with regard to enhancing capabilities and capacity in Ordinance factories.

Taking note of the ministry's responses to the CAG queries regarding financial improprieties, the panel noted that in almost all cases of relaxation of norms and procedures highlighted by the audit, the ministry's refrain seems to be operational urgency being paramount and overriding.

Observing that it understands the urgency of war-like situation and the need to relax standard norms and procedures to hasten procurement of requirements for war, the panel noted it fails to comprehend that the Armed Forces did not have stockpiles of required ammunition and other equipment for war that could tide over the two-month period that domestic industries require to start supplies.

The ministry had given the argument that the emergent situation demanded innovative procedures to rapidly boost the combat capability of troops engaged in Operation Vijay and hence it relaxed extant procedures to quickly secure supplies. The CAG report had pointed out that nearly all supplies were either received or contracted well after cessation of hostilities and therefore in no way supported the operations.

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