Nagpur: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Sunday blamed the previous UPA regime for not taking steps to maintain the stocks of arms and ammunition as preparation in case of a war and said the situation has substantially improved now under the new government.
The minister’s remarks come in the wake of a CAG report on ammunition management, which pointed that the army faced a massive ammunition shortage with reserves that would barely last 20 days of intense fighting.
“I admit the CAG report, which stated that arms and ammunition will last for 20 days if war breaks out. The situation that was there till 2013 has considerably improved now and there was not reason to worry,” Parrikar, who is on a two day visit to Nagpur, told reporters.
He said the necessary stock of arms and ammunition between the year 2008 and 2013 was not taken care of and no seriousness was shown in this regard.
“Now the situation is not that bad and it is not a question of 20 days or 40 days. It all depends on the requirement of arms and ammunition and shell’s life. I can’t afford ammunition for 40 days since other factors are also involved like the age of ammunition and ease of handling,” Parrikar said.
There are a variety of ammunition and and if one particular product is short, others can be used to overcome the shortfall, he said.
“We will overcome the shortfall within one and half years and the gap has been filled 50 per cent and process of remaining 50 percent is underway,” Parrikar asserted.
To a question, Parrikar defended the government’s decision to freeze the raising of Mountain Striking Corps. Elaborating on it, he said it requires a whopping Rs 88,00
0 crore for which the previous UPA government did not make provision, but just took a decision.
“The UPA cabinet took a decision in 2010 which was without proper planning,” he alleged.
The infrastructure has to be improved for raising such a force and in the absence of such a provision, the BJP government has decided to put it on hold.
“We are working on to settle the unit,” he added. On procurement of fighter aircraft Rafale from France, Parrikar said India would go for direct purchase. Earlier in the day, Parrikar met RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat in the city.
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