Army refutes CAG findings on shortage of winter clothing and equipment – India Today

Posted: August 14, 2020 at 4:50 pm

Shortage in reserves at the Army headquarters does not impact availability to troops, the Army told a parliamentary panel responding to the findings of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) pointing out deficiencies of winter clothing and equipment for high altitude areas.

The Indian Army stated that the shortages in the stocks, that existed for special clothing and mountaineering meant for areas where temperatures dip below minus 20 degrees Celsius, is being built up now.

The Army's assertion that there is no shortage of equipment and clothing for troops on the ground is significant as it comes amid the India-China standoff in eastern Ladakh. With the deadlock continuing, the Indian Army is stocking up and preparing for a "long winter deployment" when the temperatures in some of the areas fall to minus 30 to minus 45 degrees Celsius.

Clarifying about the shortages flagged in the CAG report tabled in Parliament earlier this year - which talked only about shortages in reserves at the headquarters and had no bearing on troops deployed in areas at more than 10,000 feet - the Army informed the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that local purchases are available to meet any eventuality, if required.

"Discounting reserves, availability of stocks with troops was adequate. Local purchases for urgent requirements are undertaken," the Army told the PAC on Monday. Due to shortages, the troops had to "recycle" snow boots, the CAG had observed in its report between 2015-16 and 2017-18.

The Army has faced critical shortages in its reserves of special clothing and equipment - like snow goggles, boots, jackets and sleeping bags - meant for high altitude areas, the report had said. The audit performed by the CAG was based on clothing, equipment, ration and housing in high altitude areas.

Explaining the procurement process, the Army stated in its response to the PAC, that only items approved by soldiers are included in the tendering. The panel was informed that high altitude areas are divided into two categories. Heights up to 12,000 feet is in the category of 'Extreme Cold' clothing, and for heights beyond that special clothing and mountaineering equipment is required.

More than 3,54,000 troops are deployed up to 12,000 feet, and 38,000 troops at heights above that. Responding to the CAG findings on irregularities in the selection of "inferior" rucksacks that did not meet specifications listed in the contract, the Army said that inconsistencies in lab testing led to a dispute between the Directorate General Quality Assurance and the supplier.

"No compromise on quality of stores, and no defect report has been received from the troops till date," it said.The Army also said that there has been no quality complaints or loss to state due to Shelf Life Management of any of the items.

The auditor had found that three items of the special clothing and mountaineering equipment were issued to units after the expiry of shelf life. The Army, however, said that the shelf life extension of stores is a regular process and all the items were gainfully utilised.

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Army refutes CAG findings on shortage of winter clothing and equipment - India Today

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