New Delhi (Sputnik) — The officials belonged to the Indian Ordnance Factories Service (IOFS), responsible for ensuring that the ordnance factories are always prepared to cater to the varied logistical needs of the Armed Forces.
"The Government, after having assessed the overall performance of officers of Indian Ordnance Factories Service, following the prescribed procedure, has decided to retire its 13 Group 'A' officers from Government service in public interest due to their overall unsatisfactory performance," the Indian Defense Ministry said in a statement.
The state-run ordnance factories are the main source of ammunition for India's armed forces. However, the armed forces' demands were not met in 64 to 95 percent types of ammunition during the period of 2013-17A, according to a recent audit report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), the country's apex auditor.
"Despite continued slippages in the supply of ammunition to the army by the concerned ordnance factories, no mechanism has been introduced by the board or factories to fix the responsibility for such slippages as recommended in our previous report," CAG said in a report in July 2017.
In response to the CAG report, the Defense Ministry started rigorous screening of the overall performance of ordnance factory officers and found non-compliance of the scheduled delivery timeline of critical arms and equipment to the armed forces.
CAG in its July report said that out of a total of 152 types of ammunition, the stock of 121 types of ammunition was below the authorized level of 40 days and 40 percent of ammunition types were at a critical level, having less than 10 days of stock. Availability of high-caliber ammunition relating to AFVs (Tanks) and artillery are in a more alarming state. Moreover, in the absence of a fuse, 83 percent of this high-caliber ammunition presently held by the armed forces was not in a state to be used in operations.
"Some of the unproductive ordnance factories (OFs) need to be shut down. They are unable to meet the demand of the services, suffer from serious quality issues, are overpriced and the worker productivity as compared to comparable defense structures in the private sector is very low," Major General Dhruv C Katoch (ret.) told Sputnik.
The firing of ordnance factory officials comes only a day after the defense ministry announced the closing of several decades-old non-combatant units of the armed forces like military farms and postal units, and to redeploy 57,000 non-combatants to combat zones. As these non-combat posts have been wiped out permanently, the saved money would be used in the modernization of armed forces through purchasing weapons, said the ministry.
India has 39 ordnance factories employing about 100,000 employees.