Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has hauled up the Army for recruiting more soldiers than required, with some being posted to battalions without weapons and equipment. On the other hand, there has been a persistent shortage of men in technical cadres such as engineers and signals, according to the report tabled in Parliament on Monday.

The deficiency of personnel below officer rank was gradually decreasing till three years ago. Thereafter, the Army began having more men in its ranks as compared to the authorised strength. By the end of 2005, there were over 33,000 more soldiers as against the actual requirement, with the infantry accounting for over 16,000 additional soldiers.

On the other hand, signals and engineering were short by about 2,000 men each during most of the recruiting cycles. Though the surplus was small in terms of percentage, the financial impact was significant and was estimated at over Rs. 500 crore for two of the years under examination, the report said.

The primary reason was the unrealistic estimation of wastages, the term used to define retirements, desertions, failures in training, discharge on medical grounds and deaths. The Army hopes to avoid this lapse in future with the help of a computer model for refining the manpower management process.

The CAG also picked holes in the recruitment and training procedures and felt that in the case of the former, the Army should probe the phenomena of a high number of recruits being declared medically unfit and then cleared for absorption after they went in for a review.