No LWE hand in WB ammunition depot fires: Govt

New Delhi: The Government on Wednesday ruled out any involvement of Left-wing extremists in the fires at ammunition depots in West Bengal last year.

Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju said during Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha that a fire broke out in the Ammunition Depot, Panagarh on March 26 in which about 332 tons of ammunition worth Rs 18 crore was destroyed.

Another fire at Ammunition Point (AP), Binaguri took place on November 20 last year, in which about 19 tons of unserviceable ammunition and a portion of an explosive store house were damaged.

"There was no incident of sabotage or involvement of any external non-state action," he said when asked if there was an involvement of Maoist in the incidents.

He said measures have been taken to avoid recurrence of such incidents in future and added that three levels of security are being provided at the ammunition depots and storage space augmented.

Rs 1,736 crore have been sanctioned since 1999 for ammunition storage accommodation, he said adding space constraint is one of the reasons for fires.

The minister cited electrical short-circuits, internal combustions and accidental explosion as reasons for the fires.

"Modernisation of Army Ordnance depots including improvement of safety and security instructions is an on-going process," he added.