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Posted at: Mar 22, 2015, 8:29 PM; last updated: Mar 22, 2015, 8:29 PM (IST)

Punjab cops equipped with useless arms: CAG

Obsolete weapons, bad buys, improper storage affect force's ability to hit back

Fighting a losing battle

  • 21,016 obsolete rifles (.303) and 4,839 muskets (.410) and 5,809 sten guns are still with field units, awaiting replacement
  • 10.55 lakh "expired" bullets of 9mm ammunition -- aged between 8 and 28 years — have not been disposed of
  • 48.11 lakh pieces of obsolete ammunition other than 9mm are also lying in the stores
  • 50,000 cartridges bought in December 2011 after these had outlived their utility
Punjab cops equipped with useless arms: CAG

Jupinderjit Singh

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 21

Twenty-four years ago, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs asked Punjab to replace its obsolete weapons, especially .303 rifles and .410 muskets and sten guns. The direction is still to be implemented.

This is the sorry state of affairs of the Punjab police, which has one of the best police-public ratios and whose budget has doubled to Rs 4,600 crore in less than a decade. If the old has become obsolete, the fresh purchases, surprisingly, have not been judicious either. As many as 10 light machine guns (5.56 mm) and 18 Under Breeze Grenade Launchers for SG 553 rifles bought from Israel and Switzerland three years ago are yet to be used. The reason: The compatible ammunition for those is yet to be procured.

Then, the Central Armoury, Bahadurgarh, bought 50,000 cartridges from the Small Arms Factory, Kanpur, in December 2011 even though those were manufactured 10 years ago -- in 2001 -- and had outlived their utility. The audit of the purchases and status of weapons for 2011-14 -- released in the Comptroller and Auditor General's (CAG) report for financial year 2013-14 in the state Assembly on Friday -- tears into the working of the department.

It notes that the department still carries obsolete weaponry, has a poor system of storage and is sleeping over the replacement of several types of arms and ammunition. The issue is of paramount importance as the police personnel on field duty carry unfit weapons and fail to respond to criminals. The force has not had an ammunition examiner for the past five years due to which the serviceability or disposal of arms and ammunition could not be done.

The police also indulged in unprofitable expenditure. It procured 40 QD suppressors for MP-9 pistol at a cost of Rs 10 lakh from a Switzerland  firm in 2010. These suppressors are yet to be issued to field units.
As many as 234  SG-553 assault rifles bought at a cost of Rs 3.55 crore from a Switzerland firm in May 2010 are also lying unused. The department purchased 234 magnifying reflex sights to be fitted on rifles at an additional cost of Rs 1.48 crore from a USA-based firm. But those can't be fitted for want of adapters. These are yet to be bought. A total of Rs 5 crore spent without any utilisation.
The report has exposed that though the Union Ministry of Defence clarified in July 2011 to the state police that the normal life of 9mm ammunition is 5 to 7 years. But the audit report found that a whopping 10.55 lakh "expired" bullets of 9mm  ammunition -- aged between 8 and 28 years -- have not been disposed of.
As many as 48.11 lakh pieces of ammunition other than 9mm, which had also outlived their shelf life by more than 10 years, are also lying in the stores.


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