A crippling shortage of bulletproof jackets may have jeopardised the safety of Indian soldiers deployed in operational areas, a parliamentary panel report has said.
The army has barely half the number of jackets it needs. Worse, the existing jackets do not give the soldiers adequate protection, it said.
The Standing Committee on Defence, consisting of 31 MPs across the political spectrum, has found that there is a
shortage of 1,86,138 jackets
in the world’s second-largest army. The army is authorised 3,53,765 jackets.
A defence ministry official told the panel that Defence Acquisition Council, which clears the acquisition of military hardware, has given the go-ahead to buy 1,86,138 jackets for around Rs 930 crore. Each jacket costs Rs 50,000. The defence ministry would be floating a domestic tender to buy the jackets.
The shocked panel, which tabled its report in Parliament on Wednesday, noted that the shortage of jackets had risked the lives of as many troops. It said the ministry should invoke fast-track procedures to buy such life-saving items.
The new jackets, superior in quality, are expected to give troops more protection than the existing ones that left them vulnerable in the sides.