Despite a more than two-year long fact-finding exercise, the super-secretive National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), entrusted with responsibility of gathering technical intelligence, is yet to find out who ‘stole’ sophisticated solar batteries from its high-security headquarters.
According to sources, the agency wasn’t able to account for more than 40 solar batteries installed at its headquarters for lighting the agency compound.
“The issue came to light when the paramilitary force guarding the compound asked for better lighting arrangements and a check was done on batteries. During the exercise, only one battery out of the 45 thought to have been installed could be accounted for. Preliminary probe said the batteries may have been stolen from the compound but no theft report was lodged with police. An inquiry is on,” said a government official requesting anonymity.
The official added that later, due to a thick layer of dust and cobwebs at the designated place, it was suspected that the batteries might not have been installed there at all.
“The cost of batteries may be only few lakhs but they disappearance from the high security compound or even non-installation raises many uncomfortable questions about the working of the agency under successive heads and it is still not known who is responsible for the lapse,” said the official.
Due to controversies with procurement and recruitment in the agency, established after the Kargil war to augment country’s technical intelligence gathering capabilities, the UPA government ordered an audit of the working of NTRO by the comptroller and auditor general (CAG).
It was the first ever CAG-audit on an intelligence agency in the country. Its report is yet to be released. Sources say despite the fact that batteries were not found in the compound or not even installed, their annual maintenance contract was given and executed too.