New Delhi: Budgetary constraints have been blamed for the failure to procure high-altitude clothing required by soldiers posted in Siachen, according to a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report tabled in the Lok Sabha.
The audit report pointed to shortage of Extreme Cold Clothing and Equipment (ECC&E) stocks, ranging between 24 per cent and 100 per cent and 41 per cent and 100 per cent at the two depots, which are used by the Northern Command’s Army Headquarters Reserve to stock such items.
The CAG report presented on Monday had noted that shortage of specialised clothing and gear such as snow goggles and boots for troops stationed in high-altitude regions in Siachen and Ladakh is compelling the troops to reuse old and recycled products.
The Army Headquarters Reserve is maintained for contingency operations, dual task formations on the Pakistan and China fronts, and for the movement of additional troops.
In March 2019, the Defence Ministry attributed “budgetary constraints” to the reduced procurement. The ministry had also clarified that a shortage in the Army Headquarters Reserve was caused by an increase in the authorisation of ECC&E sets by 64,131 in 2017.
The CAG report, prepared on the basis of information compiled between 2015-16 and 2017-18, also drew attention to the shortage of special rations for such soldiers, resulting in a calorie deficiency of 82 per cent.
The report also noted the failure of a pilot project aimed at improving the housing conditions of high-altitude zone troops while pointing out that the undue delay in handing over assets to the units led to deprivation of resources in the forbidding climate.