The Defence Ministry has cleared the proposal by the Indian Army to shut down the Officers Training Academy (OTA), Gaya. The academy has been training Technical Entry Scheme and Special Commissioned Officers since 2011.
After the closure, the officer cadets are expected to be trained at the prestigious Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun. As per a report in The Print, the government has given in-principle approval for the closure of OTA, Gaya.
Notably, OTA Gaya was constituted after the Kargil war with the expectation that more officers would join the Army. "This clearly did not happen. The number of people who could qualify as officers to join the Army was much less than anticipated," said one of the officers.
Officers of the Indian Army get their commissions as officers after training at IMA, Dehradun; OTA, Chennai and OTA Gaya.
Why OTA is shutting down?
Army has argued that OTA Gaya is operating lower than its sanctioned strength. Established in 2011, OTA Gaya is training 250 cadets presently against its sanctioned strength of 750. Moreover, in past also the number has been on the lower side. In fact, IMA and OTA Chennai have also not been able to train the sanctioned strength of the officer cadets.
As per the data available with the Ministry of Defence (MoD), OTA Chennai has not been able to fill 50 per cent of its seats. IMA is also training about 300 cadets less than its strength. Now, there have been speculations that the officer cadets from OTA Gaya will be shifted to IMA.
However, the locals in Gaya, Bihar, are resisting the move fearing job losses. Moreover, The Times of India, quoting Vijai Kumar Mithu, convener of the OTA Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, reported that more than Rs 1,000 crore has been invested in the development of infrastructure and other facilities of the academy that was established only eight years ago.
"Not only that, the closure of the OTA will badly affect the Gaya economy. A sizeable part of the expenditure made by OTA officers and employees finds its way to the local market. With OTA gone, the Gaya market will suffer heavy losses at a time when the economy as a whole was not doing well," Mithu argued. Sources in the Army have said there are plans to shift the Sikh Light Infantry (LI) regimental Centre to Gaya but any official announcement is yet to be made.