As the Army begins investigation into the deadly fire at its most important ammunition depot, questions are yet again swirling over the management of ammunition by the military.
It is clear that there has been a deviation from the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in the installation where there is no room for errors.
SOPs are laid out for every step of handling, storing and using ammunition to prevent such accidents. It is still not clear what may have caused Pulgaon blast.
CAD, Pulgaon being the mother depot for the entire 1.2 million Army, it has various sheds housing a variety of ammunition — bullets for small arms, tank shells, 155 mm artillery shells and Brahmos and other missiles. However it is unclear at this point which ammunition exploded.
The fact remains that there is a recurring trend of depot fires. Since 2000 there have been at least six major fires in ammunition dumps killing scores and resulting in the loss of several thousands of crores of taxpayers’ money.
In a 2015 audit on ammunition management in the Army for the period 2008-09 to 2012-13, the Comptroller and Auditor General made strong observations for deficiencies in ammunition management.
The CAG said the depots faced the “risk of fires” as the firefighting equipment was not in order.