Lok Sabha

July 29, 2016

Kalyan Banerjee speaks in LS during Question Hour on fire in ordnance depots

Kalyan Banerjee speaks in LS during Question Hour on fire in ordnance depots

As reported on 31 May 2016, 130 tonnes of anti-tanks mine blew up at the army’s ammunition depot at Phulgaon, Maharashtra killing 19 people including two army officers. Central Ammunition Department is located about 90 km from Nagpur, spread over an area of more than 7000 acres and stores a variety of ammunitions and explosives in large number of sets.

The CAD comes directly under the Army Headquarters and is responsible for all India supply of ammunition and explosives after receiving them from Ordnance Factories and other sources. The CAD then supplies the items to various ammunition departments and field ammunition depots for their works. Five villages near the CAD were evacuated immediately after the fire had taken place. It is also reported that the Hon’ble Defence Minister went there and visited the spots also.

Madam, I want to know from the Hon’ble Minister, through you, if any full-fledged inquiry from the highest level of Army for the cause of such fire has been made. If so, then what is the fate of such inquiry and whether reasons have been identified and accountability has been fixed or not.

My question was not about the recommendations. what are the reasons of the fire and whether those responsible have been identified or not.

Madam, the Hon’ble Defence Minister has said that during last CES only one incident has happened. On the basis of the report which is available to me, I can say that this is not the case. Another incident had occurred on 8 December, 2015 and five persons were injured when a fire broke out during a regular exercise in Visakhapatnam. There are so many repetitions earlier also. I can give the dates. On 26 March, 2010 a major fire broke out in the Panagarh Depots in West Bengal, but no causalities were reported. But the depot suffered a huge loss. On 4 December, 2008, in Bhuj, Gujarat, two army men were killed in the blaze at the Bhuj depot after bombs exploded during routine inspection of old and outdated ammunition. On 12 August, 2007, 2 army men and a civilian were killed and 40 others injured in a major fire at Ordnance Depot in South Kashmir. On 29 April 2001, a huge fire broke out in ammunition dump of the army’s cantonment near Pathankot, Gurdaspur District but no casualties were there.

These repetitive fire disasters in the Ordnance Depots show the carelessness of the Government. They have not looked into the matter for more than a decade.

My question is whether repetitive fire disasters at Indian Ordnance Depots are caused because of only laxity of the Central Government, deviation from the standard operative procedures in the installation or is there any act of sabotage.