Shortage of fire tenders, staff at Army’s arms depots, admits Parrikar

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New Delhi, July 19 (IANS) Months after a massive fire killed 19 at an arms depot in Maharashtra, Defence Minister Manohar admitted in parliament that there is a shortage of fire fighting trucks and personnel in the ammunition depots of Indian Army due to procurement and recruitment related delays.

In a written reply to Rajya Sabha, he also revealed that some of the ammunition is stored under temporary sheds.

“Due to delay in procurement/recruitment, the deficiencies of 23 fire fighting trucks and 362 personnel exist in ammunition depots of Indian Army,” Parrikar said.

“Ammunition is stored in permanent accommodation. However, due to operational and other local exigencies, some ammunition is stored in temporary sheds,” he said.

The minister also said that the May 31 incident at Pulgaon was “the only major fire incident in ammunition depot during last three years”.

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The incident claimed 19 lives while 17 others were injured. The loss of equipment and stores as per preliminary estimation is approximately Rs 7.90 crore.

In reply to a question on lessons learnt from the disaster, the minister said government, following a report from the Court of Inquiry, has decided that disposal of all defective segregated mines, such as anti-tank mines for removing TNT, held at various locations will be undertaken by Army Headquarters.

The Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) will replace or repair the defective ammunition within three months and Army Headquarters in consultation with all stakeholders will finalize the standard operating procedures (SOP) for disposal of defective ammunition in fixed time frame, and fixing up responsibility for defect and regularisation of loss, Parrikar said.

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Army Headquarters will also review the security and fire safety arrangements at all ammunition depots, the minister said.



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