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Indian Army troops in Ladakh didn't have access to critical missiles during Doklam-standoff

Last year as the stand-off between India and China at the Doklam plateau in Bhutan peaked, a Mountain Strike Corps (a part of the Indian Army) formation positioned in Ladakh put on an alert realised that they didn't have critical missiles because the ammunition dumps didn't have air conditioning.

Ammunition, especially missiles, need to be stored in "controlled conditions." The newly raised Mountain Strike Corps is tasked to operate along India-China border.

In a shocking finding, the Comptroller Auditor General of India (CAG) said, "As a result of the absence of air-conditioning, the facility constructed could not be used for storage of missiles. The Division Ordinance Unit of the Formation (DoU) also confirmed in August 2016 that due to non-availability of air-conditioning in the missiles sheds, no missiles were held by them."

The CAG observed that by September 2017 only a portion of the work was complete. Inquires of the CAG revealed that case for an air-conditioned storage facility was cleared in 2005. The Northern Command of the Indian Army which was entrusted with the task of putting up the facility convened a "Board" to build the infrastructure.

The Board decided to split the works, building the facility -- comprising three magazines to hold ammunition and one magazine to store missiles -- a separate work to air-condition the facility. And, although the facility to store missiles was completed in 2008, the Northern Command started air conditioning only in 2013.

With no storage facility available, "The missiles for the formation were kept at an Ammunition Point (AP) of another formation which is almost 150 km" away," the CAG has observed. The CAG has also rejected explanation of Northern Command which in July 2017 said "that all sheds were put to use immediately from October 2011 for storage of ammunition." Pulling up the Indian Army, the CAG has said "the reply is not acceptable as due to delay in provisions of air conditioning the shed could not be used for the desired purpose of holdings missiles. Therefore, the utilisation of the missiles sheds for storage of other ammunition held by the formation was not justifiable."

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