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The Army has sounded alarm over the unacceptably high number of accidents due to poor and defective quality of ammunition being supplied for tanks, artillery, air defence and other guns owned by the Ordnance Factory Board. APN’s popular debate Mudda discussed this issue. Anchorperson Vandna Bhardwaj posed the questions to panellists, including the RLD’S Ankur Saxena, BJP’s Col Dayashanker Dubey, SP’s Bhavesh Yadavdefence expert (retd) Brig KG Behl and APN consultant Govind Pant Raju.

Brig Behl said: “There are norms regarding handling of ammunition, how these are to be kept, the temperature to be maintained, the moisture level, and so on. They cannot be sub-standard. So it is not possible to say that ammunition that we got was bad, but maintenance needs to be looked into, there is a shelf-life too of these products.”

Raju said: “I don’t agree that there is mishandling on this front. Ordnance factories are regularly quizzed on this. CAG has asked questions on this in the past. Ordnance factories need to look into their arrangements and maintenance. This is a serious issue and needs to get sorted at the earliest.”

Bhavesh Yadav said: “It is shameful that this is happening. On the one side, government asks for votes in name of army’s achievements, on the other hand so much of laxity is emerging. This is an insult to the forces.”

Raju said: “I don’t think we should be politicising this issue–that will indeed by a shame. The upkeep of our defence preparedness is the responsibility of the government.”

Col Dayashanker Dubey said: “Over-temperature is an issue due to the heat of the summer. Accidents are a matter of concern, but two organisations have to look into this: one is the army and the other is the Ordnance Factory Board.”

Brig Behl said: “There are specifications at ordnance factories, thousands of such ammunitions get checked. The norms have to be followed. So many times, ammunition is sent from hot areas to very cold areas, there could be an issue in transportation, and this needs to be investigated.”

Bhavesh Yadav said: “The issue with China and Pakistan is there. It is sad that defence is being compromised in this way. Defence budget has been going up, and still we have such issues?”

Raju said: “The defence forces do give out regular reports to the government, highlighting their concerns.”

Ankur Saxena said: “BJP is increasingly privatising supplies. Defence budget is going up, but that is all going to private bodies. How can we say our country is in safe hands with the BJP?”

Raju said: “I don’t agree that the BJP is closing down maintenance depots, army farmhouses etc. The effort looks to be in organising military operations. This has nothing to do with the BJP, the effort has been on for quite some time.”

Bhavesh Yadav said: “But army has been complaining all along. Neighbours have nuke weapons, we need to be careful.”

Brig Behl said: “We should not look at the political angle, especially in defence matters.”

Ankur Saxena said: “It is not the BJP, it is the NaMo party. The responsibility is therefore of the PM.”

Raju said: “Army has stringent protocols, and the entire force gets rigorous training on this. This should not be treated in a political way at all.”

Compiled by – Niti Singh Bhandari 

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