Indian Army is the only force which operates and fights at heights of over 20,000 feet on the Siachen glacier, yet imports even the most basic equipment and personal items required to sustain troops there.
Now the Army is attempting to reverse this and indigenise items by involving the private sector in addition to the Defence Public Sector Undertakings.
The Army spends about ?500 crore every year on basic personal items for soldiers.
“Over the last two years five items costing about ?100 crore annually has been indigenised. Over the next 3-4 years the target is to indigenise the remaining ?400 crore,” one Army source said on Tuesday.
The items include super high altitude clothing such as rucksack special socks, thermal insoles, snow goggles and High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema (HAPO) bag. These are currently imported and are quite expensive.
Super high altitude is the height above 18,000 feet.
In relation to this the third Defence-Indian Technical Textile Association (ITTA) joint seminar and exhibition is scheduled to be held on May 22-23 with the theme “Indigenization and provision of improved products to our soldiers.”
About 40 companies from Indian Textile Industry will be displaying items of general stores including High Altitude/ Extreme Cold climate clothing an equipment for Special Force and Nuclear, biological and Chemical (NBC) protection.
“Over the past two years through this forum, approx. 20% of our import load for Super High Altitude Areas has been reduced through indigenisation. Product improvement for about 20 items have also been undertaken to make out troops fight better,” the source added. Lt Gen RR Nimbhorkar, Master General Ordnance (MGO) said on the development: “Such initiatives supported by the textile ministry and defence ministry will lead to price competitiveness, transparency and entry of quality players which will automatically bring in much required R&D and indigenization…”
To facilitate it the MGO branch is attempting to open up its procurements and streamline the policy.