India army loses half its firing ranges

Indian army soldier on patrol The Indian army is a 1.1 million strong force

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The Indian army has lost half its firing ranges over the past three years due to urbanisation and encroachments, says an army spokesperson.

The number of ranges at different locations across the country available to the army, has gone from 106 to 51.

"It does have an effect on our training, but we find our ways and means," says Colonel Jagdeep Dahiya.

With a 1.1 million strong force, the Indian army is one of the largest in the world.

The army owns some of the ranges but others are on land leased from state governments for a "specific period of time".

As the demand for land grows in India, state governments are not renewing the leases because they want to use the land for development projects.

"Presently we are meeting our requirements but of course the crunch is there. We are looking at ways about it," says Colonel Dahiya.

Encroachment by locals on other ranges is also hampering the army's ability to effectively carry out their training.

"How will you know the efficiency of your force and weapons if you don't get to fire at the firing range,'' asks defence expert, retired Major General Afsar Kareem.

"No weapon works on its own. You need to test how a specific weapon works under different conditions, during day and night," he adds.

The army is negotiating with the state governments to resolve the issue and is also hoping to buy more ranges.

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