New Delhi, April 30 (IANS) A parliamentary panel on defence Monday concurred with Indian Army chief Gen. V.K. Singh on shortage of arms and ammunition in the force, noting that it was 'alarmed over the way the deficiencies have been allowed to persist' in aviation assets, artillery guns and tank ammunition.
The panel, in its report tabled in parliament, said 'there are huge gaps between the sanctioned and existing machines with army aviation... the tank ammunition is another critical area having shortages... another area affecting the army preparedness is requirements of guns.'
The committee's findings come just over a month after Gen. Singh wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pointing out the deficiencies in Indian Army's war preparedness in view of shortage of critical weapons and equipment.
The report said that if the sanctioned and existing strength of the army aviation assets are compared, then there is a shortage of 18 Cheetah, one Chetak, 76 Advanced Light Helicopter and 60 Advanced Light Helicopter (Weapons Systems Integrated).
Its deliberations also indicated that certain problems are being faced with regard to getting tank ammunition and the problems have been further compounded due to the blacklisting of Israeli Military Industries that was to construct three plants for producing bimodular charges at Nalanda in Bihar.
'The whole contract with them has fallen through and other alternate routes are now being activated,' the report noted.
The committee strongly emphasised that all the issues confronting acquisitions should be addressed immediately, as budget is not a problem.
'The issue of critical gaps should be addressed without any further delay and also within the stipulated time frame,' it said.
On the artillery guns front, the committee pointed out that the upgradation of the Bofors 155mm guns 'is taking a long time'.
'Many years have passed after the transfer of technology. Now the project has been given to the Ordnance Factory Board. The committee disapproves the way the deficiency of gun systems has been allowed to reach to the criticality,' it said.
While deploring the situation, the committee strongly recommended that the procurements should be put on fast track mode so that the criticality of ammunitions with the army is addressed.
'All support required for the acquisitions including the financial support should be made available to the ministry,' it added.
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