Home / News / India /  Troops in Siachen, Ladakh faced shortage of high altitude clothing for 4 years: CAG

NEW DELHI : Indian troops based in high altitude areas like Siachen and Ladakh faced critical shortages of high altitude clothing and equipment including snow goggles up to four years, a Comptroller and Auditor General report on the working of the Defence Ministry has found.

According to a statement issued by the CAG on Monday for the period of the audit between 2015-16 and 2017-18, also faults the ministry on the supply of provisions and housing facilities for the troops stationed in these areas.

“There were delays in procurement of high altitude clothing and equipment items up to four years leading to acute shortage of essential clothing and equipment items," it said though it does not seem give any reasons for the delay.

“There was critical shortage in snow goggles ranging from 62% to 98%. The troops were not issued ‘multi-purpose boots’ from November 2015 to September 2016 and had to resort to recycling of available boots," the statement said.

“Further, old versions of items such as face mask, jacket and sleeping bags were procured which deprived the troops from the benefits of using improved products," it said, adding that the lack of research and development by the defence laboratory led to continued dependence on import.

Troops stationed in high altitudes were also supplied reduced quantity of substitutes instead of the “special scales of ration" authorized to meet their daily energy requirements. “This compromised the calorie intake of the troops by as high as 82%," the CAG statement said. “At (the Indian Army’s) 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 CAG report found, the statement said.

Improvements to the housing conditions of troops in high altitude area were executed “in an adhoc manner," the statement said. “In the first two phases of Pilot project extensive summer/winter trials were conducted. The third phase constituted confirmatory trial, at a cost of Rs63.65 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. Handing over assets created under pilot project to the units got delayed much beyond 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," it added.

The CAG’s audit report also noted that the Indian National Defence University, whose setting up by the Kargil Review Committee that went into security lapses that resulted in Pakistani army regulars and terrorists taking commanding positions on the heights of the mountains in Kashmir’s Kargil region, had not yet been established. This is despite the government giving in principal approval in May 2010 for the University to address deficiencies in India’s security management system. The project whose cost was 395 crores in 2010 had escalated to Rs4,007.22 crore in December 2017 – “i.e. an increase of 914 %," the statement noted. The draft IDU legislation was still pending in August 2019, it said.

Another finding of the audit report was that a delay in renewal of leases pertaining to defence land had led to a pecuniary loss of Rs27.42 crore. The Ministry of Defence had not finalized the policy for renewal of leases of defence land leased to Sports and Recreational Clubs till June 2018.

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