Defence Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday assured Parliament that the armed forces are “fully equipped” to face any contingency and any shortages in weaponry or ammunition are being “expeditiously addressed”.
“As far as armed forces are concerned they are fully equipped to face any contingency and any shortages are being expeditiously addressed,” Jaitley said, in the wake of a CAG report expressing concern over ammunition shortage.
The Comptroller and Auditor General in a report tabled last week said that 55 per cent of ammunition used by the Indian Army would not last long to meet the minimum operational requirements.
For the remaining 45 per cent, the Army has stock which could be put to use for a maximum of 10 days in case of an “intense war”, the report said.
The Minister said the report was about the shortage at a particular point of time and “significant steps” have been taken since then.
“The report was with regard to year 2012-13 and now up to March 2016. With regard to certain ammunition, the CAG had made an observation… They made it in 2013, they made it in 2016, these relate to availability at a particular point in time,” he said.
“Thereafter, significant steps have been taken by the government, including decentralisation of power – given to the Vice Chief,” he said.
The government has delegated powers to the Vice Chief of Army to directly procure 46 types of ammunition to fight short and “intense wars” without going to the Defence Ministry.
Last year, emergency procurement of weaponry worth Rs 20,000 crore was cleared after the terror attack in Uri on September 18, 2016.
Jaitley also said that while Defence PSUs were contributing to defence manufacturing, due to India’s security scenario the requirements were greater leading to huge imports. He said that the Strategic Partnership model introduced will help in increasing domestic manufacturing by involving the private sector.
“So far the system has been that the DPSUs do maximum defence manufacturing. That is going on. But another reality is that a lot of equipment historically has been procured from foreign countries. Today, indigenous content in equipment varies from 50 per cent to 85-90 per cent,” Jaitley said.
“Because our security situation in the world is such, our requirements are greater… Government brought a policy of Strategic Partnership, under that many platforms have been opened for the private sector. Many big Indian companies have started defence manufacturing and joint ventures. For every platform one company will be selected,” he added.