The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India pointed out the chinks in India's defence when it comes to combating China along the border of Sikkim. The CAG report also touched upon a delay of four years in the deployment of a missile system in six places in the state.
The report, tabled in Parliament during the ongoing Monsoon session, comes less than a week after another report from the national auditor said India does not have enough ammunition to last 10 days in the event of a war.
The CAG report pins the blame on both the Indian Air Force (IAF), which commissioned the project, and Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL), which was supposed to complete the work, for the delay.
The Union Cabinet Committee on Security had "approved (in November 2010) the procurement and induction of six squadrons of strategic missile system from BEL to be located at six IAF stations in the 'C' Command, at a total cost of Rs 3,619.25 crore (excluding taxes)," said the CAG report.
"Ministry of Defence (MoD) accordingly concluded (in December 2010) the contract with BEL for delivery of six squadrons of Strategic missile system with 'Y' missiles."
The systems were to be delivered "between June 2013 and December 2015, at an interval of six months each," added the report.
The CAG observed the systems were "received at six IAF stations between April 2014 and June 2016, after delay of 6-18 months from the scheduled date."
It added: "Meanwhile, IAF released 95 percent of the payment, ie Rs 3,809 crore (including taxes), by March 2016 based on Factory Acceptance Test."
But the worst was yet to come! The CAG said in its report: "Out of 80 missiles received up to November 2014, 20 missiles were test fired during April-November 2014. Six of these missiles i.e., 30 percent, failed the test."
It added: "Preliminary failure analysis report revealed that the missiles fell short of the target, had lower than the required velocity, and also there was malfunctioning of critical units like Servo Control Unit and Connector. Two missiles had failed to take off because the booster nozzle had
BEL had delayed the construction of infrastructure in all six places in Sikkim where the missile defence system was to be deployed, the report noted.
BEL was to construct "buildings for storage of missiles which required suitable temperature and humidity conditions, building for preparation and testing, workshops, building for maintenance of vehicles, ramp for deployment of radar and other related civil works" at the six sites.
The reports said BEL "could not be completed till October 2016 at any of the sites."
"At two stations although 98 percent and 80 percent of the work had been completed as of October 2016. However, IAF had not taken over these buildings because of defects in the construction."
The CAG report pointed out several other shortcomings, like how delay in construction of infrastructure had led to a reduction in the lifespan and warranty periods of the missiles.
The CAG concluded India had in 2010 "envisaged induction of strategic missile system for the IAF, in the 'S' sector to create deterrence," and that it was "planned to be put in place between June 2013 and December 2015 in a phased manner."
"But till date, even after four years this urgently-needed capability has not been created and the strategic objective remains unachieved. This was primarily due to the abnormal delay in creation of the infrastructure required for installation of the missile systems. About Rs 4,000 crore has already been spent for the purpose," the report said.