The newly appointed defence minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, on Sunday rejected the findings of the Comptroller and Auditor General stating that India’s defence forces had ammunition that could last only for 20 days.
Sitharaman termed the CAG report “factually wrong” asserting that there was no dearth of weapons with the defence forces. The defence minister told reporters that facts were wrong and it was unnecessary to debate on the issue..
She said, “After taking the charge of defence ministry, I have discussed the issue with senior officers and experts. Purchasing weapons…is a continuous process.”
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), in its report tabled in Parliament recently, had stated that the defence forces had ammunition that could last for 20 days in the event of a war, instead of the minimum requirement of 40 days.
It criticised the state-run Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) for inadequate quantity of ammunition supplied to the Army since March 2013.
Sitharaman’s predecessor in the defence ministry, Arun Jaitely told Parliament that the findings of the CAG report, which had talked about the shortage of ammunition, related to a particular point of time.
“Thereafter significant process has been made. It is a continuous process. Therefore, nobody should have any doubt about the availability of equipment or the preparedness of our forces,” he asserted.
Sitharaman, who was appointed the defence minister in the last Cabinet reshuffle, visited the Uttarlai Air Force base in Barmer in Rajasthan.
Sitharaman’s statement assumes significance given that one of her predecessors, Manohar Parrikar, also from the BJP, had accepted the CAG’s findings in 2015 correct but had blamed the Congress-led UPA government for the crisis.
Parrikar had said, “I admit the CAG report, which stated that arms and ammunition will last for 20 days if war breaks out. The situation that was there till 2013 has considerably improved now and there was not reason to worry.”