India is facing ammunition shortage and if war breaks out, the firepower would barely last 10 days, according to 2017 Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report which was tabled in Parliament on Friday. This puts Indian Army in a vulnerable position owing to multiple threats from the neighbours.
According to 2015 CAG report, Indian Army even then did not have enough ammunition to fight a war. Had it entered one, it wouldn't have lasted more than 20 days.
India has already entered into a cold dispute with People's Liberation Army of China over the Doklam tri-junction issue for nearly a month now.
The CAG report had also blamed the functioning of Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) for the lack of supplies to Indian armed forces. But there are other factors as well that cannot be ignored.
The 2015 CAG report
According to the 2015 report, Indian Army needed more budget allocation just to reach 50 percent of the target capacity of War Wastage Reserve (WWR).
WWR is the prepaid supply of war fighting material which includes bullets and other forms of ammunition, as well as equipment, vessels and fuel. It is kept in reserve which will be put to use during wartime.
According to reports, the WWR should ideally last for 40 days if the country is in an intense war situation. This would ideally give enough time to ordnance factories to raise the production of the required ammunition and supply the same to the military.
The CAG report further mentioned that if adequate monetary support was provided, this situation of shortfall can be overcome by 2019.
Reason for shortage
The latest CAG report says that despite this issue being red-flagged by the central auditor, no improvement was observed in the functioning of ordnance factories.
Indian Army ranks third in the world when it comes to size. Storage of ammunition to cater to such a large army has its own problems.
The absence of proper storage facility reduces the life span of bullets and shells which are ideally supposed to last for decades. Poor storage facility degrades the quality of ammunition thus creating problems when it is put to use.
Spending less on imports
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) calls India to be the largest arms importer in the world. But India Today report, on the other hand, says that between 2012 and 2016 India accounted for only 13 per cent of global arms imports. Strategic thinker Ian Brenner said that India was spending more on infrastructure than on defence preparedness.
The problem of allocation of funds for production or import of ammunition in the country still exists. Reports say that, over the years, 'red tapism' and 'archaic bureaucratic practices' have brought down the defence sector.
The Make in India initiative is also being blamed for the same. Back in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India should become the largest exporter of arms and ammunition instead of being the largest importer.
The CAG report further points out that the various procurement cases initiated by the army back in 2009-12 were still on standby.