According to a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report on the working of the Defence Ministry, Indian soldiers posted in high altitude areas like Siachen and Ladakh faced acute shortage of snow boots, goggles & high altitude clothing up to four years. This audit was done between the period of 2015-16 and 2017-18.
Indian soldiers stationed in extremely high altitude places like Leh, Ladakh and Siachen faced severe shortage of clothes, shoes, sleeping bags and goggles.
The soldiers deployed at the high altitude borders of the country are also not getting sufficient amount of calories. This was disclosed by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) in one of its reports. This report of the CAG was presented in Parliament on Monday. The report said that the soldiers had to recycle old shoes and wear snow boots due to the shortage of snow boots.
The CAG said that in the reply given by the Ministry of Defense in March 2019, it has been said that due to the tightness of the budget and the increase in the needs of the army, the soldiers were suffering. The report said that in 2017 the demand for clothes and goods used in high altitude areas increased to 64,131. Due to this, there was a shortage of these goods in the army headquarters. However, the Ministry of Defense said that these deficiencies will be overcome gradually.
The Defense Ministry also claimed that the soldiers were not allowed to suffer shortage of goods at the ground level. However, the CAG said, “There was critical shortage in snow goggles ranging from 62% to 98%. The troops were not issued ‘multi-purpose boots’ from November 2015 to September 2016 and had to resort to recycling of available boots.”
The CAG report was presented in both houses of parliament on Monday. The report said that from November 2015 to September 2016, soldiers were not given snow boots. Because of this, the soldiers had to recycle old boots for use. The CAG said in its report, “The health of the jawans posted at high places were affected due to lack of purchase of goods and use of old items.”
Regarding the flaws in the purchase of defense goods, CAG said that old face masks, old jackets and sleeping bags were purchased. This caused problems to the soldiers and they could not take advantage of the new product. The report said that the lack of research and development by the defence laboratory led to continued dependence on import .
The CAG has also questioned the provision of ‘special scales of rations’ which are provided to jawans. The soldiers living in Leh, Ladakh and Siachen are given special food to meet the deficiency of calories. According to the CAG, in one instance it was noticed that the special ration items were shown as issued to troops for consumption without their actual receipt.