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India lacks competency to produce high-altitude military clothing
May '10
According to a few industrial experts, India lacks sufficient capacity to develop specialised apparels for armed forces fighting at higher altitudes.

Owing to this, of the 55 products that, are allocated to soldiers deputed in areas such as the Siachen Glacier and Kargil, 19 key products such as trousers, down feather jackets, multipurpose boots, sleeping bags, rucksacks and woollen socks are purchased from foreign markets due to dearth of local apparel production sources.

It is therefore necessary that, the local production capacities are made stronger at least the ones in the public sector, as the private sector is not keen, considering the poor economic viability of these projects.

Also, despite sourcing these apparels for over two decades, the Army headquarters had as yet not crafted the technical specifications. During the period, 2002-06, ten contracts were finalised for buying functional garments at the cost of Rs 488.8 million. However, 59 percent of these garments, amounting to Rs 288.1 million were rejected for various reasons.

This proves government's lackadaisical approach towards the health of the soldiers, as neither quality nor timely delivery of these apparels is guaranteed. Thereby, compromising the comfort and security of the soldiers deputed at higher altitudes. This has resulted into approximately 388 casualties, with respect to injuries taking place due to cold, such as frostbite and chilblain.

Delay in trial assessment and confirmation of specifications, in addition to, advertising for tenders and thereon signing the contracts, by the Directorate General of Quality Assurance, has lead to an overall delay of delivering these apparels by 32 months from the time the soldiers demanded for these specialised clothing.

Considering the inadequacy in the purchasing process, a committee had suggested a revision of the entire purchasing process. This, according to the government, will help minimise the delay in delivering the specialised clothing and mountaineering equipments to the soldiers and will also ensure transparency.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk - India

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