The Army has initiated a process to close four of its ordnance echelons, reducing a layer from the supply chain that it expects will help quicken the delivery of equipment and other provisions to troops at forward locations.
A roadmap is being made for this and it is likely to be implemented by the end of 2019, top defence ministry sources said. A high-level meeting of the army was held last month to prepare the time table.
Closure of the four depots — the Ordnance Depot at Shakurbasti and the Central Vehicle Depot in Delhi, the Ordnance Depot at Cheoki in Allahabad and the Vehicle Depot at Panagarh in West Bengal — was among a series of reforms for the armed forces recommended by retired Lt Gen DB Shekatkar committee to enhance combat capability and rebalance defence expenditure.
Based on the recommendations, the private sector is being involved to run eight army base workshops, which do repairs and supply spare parts for the army’s main equipment. The army plans to hire a consultant to prepare a detailed project report on a government-owned contractor-operated model for the workshops.
The College of Defence Management at Secunderabad is also conducting a study on implementing the model. Currently, the Army’s five Central Ordnance Depots supply general stores, while the vehicle depots handle vehicles.
From these depots, the items are sent to the regional ordnance depots to supply to the different army commands. Then, they are transported to the division ordnance depots for supplying to the units.
The plan is to reduce the complexity of this chain that will improve operational preparedness at a time when China is becoming more belligerent along the Line of Actual Control and Pakistan continues to sponsor cross border terror actions.
“The army doesn’t require the four ordnance depots and is preparing to close them down. This means that a supply chain is removed and the items will be given faster to the formations. For instance, vehicles from the manufacturers will be directly sent to the units. This will also help in cost saving,” said a source.
Under the current plan, soldiers posted at the depots will be deployed at logistical elements located along the borders, helping the army improve the optimisation of its manpower. Civilians working at the depots will be posted elsewhere.
However, the civilian unions are unhappy with the move and have approached defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, sources said. A committee at the Ministry of Defence is looking into their demands.