New Delhi: The Ministry of Defence has cleared the Indian Army’s proposal to disband the Officers Training Academy (OTA) in Gaya, ThePrint has learnt.
The institute has been training Technical Entry Scheme and Special Commissioned Officers since 2011. These officer cadets will now be trained at the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun.
Sources in the government told ThePrint that the ministry has given in-principle approval and communicated its decision to the Army headquarters.
“The Army headquarters will now work out the transition process in the next few months,” an officer in the Army said.
Established in 2011, OTA Gaya in Bihar is the third pre-commission training academy for the Army after OTA Chennai, and IMA.
Approximately 250 cadets are currently undergoing training at the Gaya OTA, against its capacity of 750.
In the past, cadets from countries like Vietnam, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar have also been trained at the OTA.
Sources in the Army said it was getting increasingly unviable to run the OTA in Gaya due to fewer cadets.
After the Kargil conflict, it was anticipated that there would be an increased demand for Army jobs and, hence, the requirement for more infrastructure for training personnel, the officer quoted above said.
“This clearly did not happen. The number of people who could qualify as officers to join the Army was much less than anticipated,” the officer said.
Even OTA Chennai has just been able to fill 50 per cent of its seats as “Short Service Commission did not come across as an attractive option for people willing to join the Army”, the officer said.
“Even IMA Dehradun is training about 300 cadets less than its strength,” the officer said, adding that the Uttarakhand academy has a capacity of 1,650.
Now, the idea behind shifting the cadets from Gaya to IMA is to exploit the latter fully in terms of its capacity, the officer added.
Other factors contributed too. “Gaya’s weather is highly humid and not suitable for military training,” the officer said.
However, a second Army officer in the know of things told ThePrint that the move could affect plans to increase the number of in-house officers through promotions from the ranks, aimed at addressing acute shortage of officers in the force.
“The quality of officers who got commissioned into the Army from OTA, Gaya, are among the finest,” the source said, adding that steps could have been taken instead to improve the strength of cadets.
Locals resist move
According to reports, locals in Gaya have also been resisting the Indian Army’s move to shut down the OTA and shift the cadets to IMA amid fears over its impact on the local economy and jobs.
However, the first officer quoted above said the Army will be moving an institution to Gaya to replace the OTA, which would adequately take care of the local concerns.
According to sources, there are plans to shift the Sikh Light Infantry (LI) regimental Centre to Gaya. However, a final decision is yet to be taken.
The Army Public School in Gaya is likely to remain operational under the new establishment that will replace the OTA, added the sources.