In the wake of the recent violent clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers in eastern Ladakh, the parliament’s PAC on Friday decided to review the construction of border roads at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and procurement of high-altitude clothing for the armed forces, and may call the Defense Secretary and other top officials to be briefed on the same.
Friday’s meeting of the 22-member Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chaired by the leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury was attended by 17 out of the total 20 members. Its two seats are vacant.
Members of the PAC, in which BJP enjoys majority and is led by senior party leader Bhupender Yadav, thwarted Mr Chowdhury’s attempt to select the PM Cares Fund for examination, saying its amount was not sanctioned by the parliament and therefore it cannot be taken up by the committee.
MPs from BJD and JD(U) also supported the BJP on the issue.
Meanwhile, the PAC has decided to examine various subjects with special focus being given to the CAG report number 5 of 2017, a performance audit of the Sino-India Border Roads, and CAG report number 13 of 2019 which is on the provisioning and procurement of high altitude-clothing, equipment, ration and housing for soldiers.
As per the papers circulated among the members of the committee on Friday, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report on border roads is the top most subject for examination by the committee during the year.
CAG’s Report 5 of 2017, which in the wake of the recent face-off on LAC between the soldiers of Indian and China, “talks about the highly important issue of construction of Indo-China border roads by Border Roads Organisation seems to be reviewed and further improved upon,” as per the agenda papers of the meeting.
Similarly, troops in high-altitude areas such as Siachen, Ladakh, etc need to be provided high-altitude clothing, equipment, special ration and housing facilities and the CAG report number 13 of 2019 points out at delays in procurement of clothing and equipment for troops in these regions, as per PAC’s agenda papers.
Sources in the committee said the PAC may call the Defense Secretary and other top officials to be briefed by them on the same.
The PAC meeting on Friday was the first meeting of the panel in the current calendar year. It assumes significance as it was the second meeting of the Lok Sabha’s standing committee after parliament was adjourned prematurely on March 23 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On June 15, Indian and Chinese soldiers clashed along the LAC in the Galwan valley in eastern Ladakh in which 20 Indian Army personnel lost their lives in line of duty.