‘Serious lapses in India’s maritime security’

In a recent audit numbered-31, the CAG report reads: ‘As a major maritime nation India’s vital economic and security interests are linked to the sea. Therefore, it is essential to maintain naval forces that are not only adequate but have the combat edge to meet contemporary threats.’ While commenting on the matter, a senior CAG official said: ‘Our performance audit on Mid-Life Update (MLU) of naval ships was worrying and disastrous. Very little effort was given for the up-gradation and repair of Naval ships. This issue is important considering the 26/11 incident when terrorists came to India following the sea route.’

When asked about MLU, he said: ‘Process of selective replacement of obsolete sensors, weapons, auxiliary machinery and systems to enhance operational life of a ship is called MLU. It is undertaken for those ships which have a residual life of 10 to 15 years, so as to derive optimum utilisation.’

However, CAG report has revealed that MLUs were undertaken at the fag end of a ship’s life and major equipment sanctioned at a cost of Rs 245.50 crore by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) were either delinked or deleted without reference to or approval of the competent authority.’

It also reads: ‘Actual expenditure booked against each of the CCS sanctioned projects was not available with the Navy. There were delays ranging from 5 to 67 months in commencing the MLU resulting in cascading delays in MLU and refit of remaining ships and operational unavailability of ships. Apart from delays in commencement, there were delays ranging from one to 33 months in completion of MLUs of 10 out of 17 ships.’

‘We had also done of the audit of Navy’s Planning and Management on ship repairing report and found gross irregularities. Our analysis revealed that 113, which is nearly 74 per cent, out of a total of 152 refits (repairing of ships across India) was done with a delay of 8629 days,’ he said.
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