MPs to visit Ladakh to check on soldiers’ requirements

The Public Accounts Committee aims to gain first-hand knowledge about high-altitude clothing for soldiers, housing and rations

The Public Accounts Committee is examining the latest report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) that had pointed out deficiencies in high-altitude clothing and equipment and the need to equip soldiers with proper gear. (File photo)

The members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), headed by Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, are likely to visit Leh on October 28-29 to see for themselves how the soldiers are coping with the harsh conditions amid tensions with China, the Hindustan Times reported on Tuesday.

The MPs aim to gain first-hand knowledge about high-altitude clothing for soldiers, housing and rations.

Earlier, Chowdhury had urged Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla suggesting a PAC visit to the Ladakh sector to interact with soldiers deployed there and understand their working conditions.

Currently, the committee is examining the latest report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) that had pointed out deficiencies in high-altitude clothing and equipment and the need to equip soldiers with proper gear.

The Public Accounts Committee also discussed the subject with chief of defence staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat and during this meeting Chowdhury asked General Rawat to consider a tour for the MPs to the Ladakh sector. The PAC is expected to meet on October 23 to finalise its itinerary.

The CAG had tabled a report in parliament in February drawing the attention of MPs to the shortage of essential gear, clothing and rations being faced by soldiers deployed in high-altitude areas such as Siachen and Ladakh.

The CAG had pointed out critical shortage of snow goggles and multi-purpose boots for soldiers between November 2015 and September 2016. The Army had then said that the deficiencies mentioned by the CAG have been taken care of and each soldier deployed in Siachen was supplied with gear worth Rs 1 lakh.

The MPs are likely to be briefed by senior army officials and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) scientists during the visit.

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It is the PAC’s job to scrutinize the appropriation accounts of the government and CAG reports.

Indian and Chinese forces are gearing up for a long haul in eastern Ladakh even as the harsh winters approach.

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