Nothing could be more detrimental for the morale of the forces engaged in combating insurgency, Maoists or guarding the borders than the fact that the weapons and ammunition they are given might not help in times they are needed the most.
A latest CAG report has revealed that between 2005-06 and 2010-11, five ordnance factories supplied faulty weapons and ammunition worth Rs 181 crore to paramilitary and state police forces after they were earlier rejected by the Army, putting at peril the lives of lakhs of men engaged in security operations.
In fact, one rejected lot of ammunition issued to Andhra Pradesh Police had caused an accident damaging weapons and causing minor injury on the face of the firer due to the splinters of fired cartridges.
"These weapons and ammunition had been rejected in tests by the DGQA (Directorate General of Quality Assurance) inspectorates for different reasons for issue to Army, or which were yet to be cleared in trial evaluation by the Army'," the report said.
The action of the ordnance factories also violated standing instructions to segregate the rejected weapons and ammunition and shift them to a bond area under the joint custody of the factory and DGQA to avoid any mix up.
On Friday, HT had reported how more than Rs 408 worth of tank-fired ammunition-1,02,014 rounds-that made its way into army depots in 2009-10 were found to be faulty, much before completing the prescribed shelf life of 10 years.
While no thorough investigation and analysis was conducted to find out why and how this took place, to meet the Army's shortfall, ammunition worth Rs 279 crore (16,000 rounds) had to be imported from Rosoboronexport, a Russian company.
As a result, the losses to the public exchequer due to unserviceable ammo and consequent imports totalled Rs 687 crore.
The faults in the tank ammo included flimsy propellant material, cracks in combustible cartridge case, sticking of cartridge case in packing container, etc – considered critical for effective and safe firing.
From 1997-2005, the Army had received about 3.5 lakh rounds of this ammunition valued at about Rs 1400 crore.
"Contrary to the prescribed procedure, no serious investigation was concluded to ascertain the reasons for defects in the ammunition and to fix responsibility for such failure," the CAG report said.