Thursday, April 4, 2013

Numbers up, 3 NDA Squadrons Live in Porta-Cabins

There is a tradition of Generals, Admirals and Air Chiefs swearing by Kilo, Lima, Charlie, Delta or the other squadrons they belonged to during their days at the National Defence Academy (NDA).

Today officer shortage backed by bureaucratic delays and reasons unknown, gentlemen cadets belonging to three newly raised squadrons, Panthers, Quebec and Romeo, may not recall their squadrons with so much fondness. They are forced to stay in plastic porta-cabins.

The increase in cadet strength at NDA was prompted by shortage of officers in the Indian Armed forces. The academy breached the 2000-cadet mark in May 2011 from 1,800. Today, the total number of cadets is over 2,100.

The squadron strength was raised to 18 from 15. While the 16th squadron, Panthers, was raised in 2010, 17th squadron Quebec and 18th squadron Romeo were raised in 2011-12.

But three years after the NDA created the 16th squadron not a brick to house them has moved on ground zero.

In fact, even the ad-hoc arrangement, porta-cabins as they call it, were inaugurated by former Army Chief General V K Singh in March last year.

"While the Panther squadron will be part of the fourth Battalion, Quebec and Romeo squadrons will be part of the newly created fifth Battalion. The NDA was initially established to accommodate and train 1,500 cadets. The Academy presently trains more than 2,000 cadets including 68 from friendly countries. With the increase in cadets, and a further rise expected, a need was felt to reorganize the squadrons. This has been done to improve command and control, provide for close supervision of training and better administration," NDA had said after V K Singh's visit.

The first mention of creation of 16th squadron was in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) annual report of 2010-11. "The government has accorded 'in principle' approval for raising the 16th squadron at National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla, which is likely to be completed by June 2013. The additional intake of 120 cadets will assist in overcoming shortage of officers in the Armed Forces," the report said.

And while the June 2013 deadline set by the report is nearing, the academy has just disclosed the requirements for constructions needed for the 16th squadron at a cost of Rs 1.55 crore with no mention of the 17th and 18th squadrons.

Another example of the chasm between planning on paper and ground reality is evident from the fact that when the academy strength has gone up to 2,100 cadets, the most recent report of the Standing Committee on Defence tabled in Parliament in August last year still spoke of accommodating only 1,920 cadets.

"Sanction for the 16th squadron at NDA has already been accorded. This has enhanced capacity of NDA from 1,800 cadets to 1,920. A proposal for raising the 5th Battalion at NDA with 4 new squadrons is under consideration," it said thus highlighting the much evident gap between planning and execution. Permanent accommodation for about 360 cadets is thus not visible in near future.

"At the NDA cadets' squadrons are a tradition and whether a Hunter or a Mike squadron wins cross country or bags a President's banner is followed by officers across the three services with great enthusiasm. The walls of a squadron are occupied by proud displays of historic achievements of its meritorious alumni and the squadron spirit is what drive cadets, besides the spirit of camaraderie and jointmanship, the very basis of foundation of this tri-services academy. I am not sure if porta-cabins instill that kind of camaraderie," a former NDA physical training officer said.

Another retired general who visited the academy recently said, "I felt like crying. The academy looked better in 1960 when we had lesser funds. Despite no shortage of funds, this is the condition of the NDA."

The NDA refused to reply to a detailed questionnaire sent by this paper.

By the kind courtesy of The Indian Express

What is a Porta Cabin?

“Porta Cabins” are actually portable cabins which are very easy to lift and shift anywhere ie from one place to another. These certainly add value in terms of money & time. They are cost effective as compared with the conventional buildings which take a lot more time for construction and also very expensive. The "Porta Cabins" are made of various types of fabricated items and are quite durable.

The walls of “Porta Cabins” mainly consist of marine ply board mounted on pinewood and insulated with thermocole, or sandwiched panel Cement Fiber Board inter locked with rectangular hollow sheets, or with EPS which is a type of insulated panel/material further strengthened with G. I. Sheets. The flooring of “Porta Cabins” usually consists of marine plyboard mainly placed on a frame work of GI pipes. The roofing is usually of G. I. Sheets or EPS panels supported on structural steel/strengthened aluminium.

Photograph of a few typical “Porta Cabins” are appended here just for the information of readers.
Click to Enlarge

Above information/photographs have been obtained/compiled by the kind courtesy of  Internet (Google)


  1. The National Defence Academy (NDA) is the Joint Services academy of the Indian Armed Forces, where cadets of the three services, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force train together and i want also a part of NDA, so i am waiting for the upcoming NDA applicaion form.

    1. Dear Friend,

      Why could you not disclose your identity, since, there is nothing to hide? You must have courage to do so. You can try getting the NDA application form from website http://www.iupsc.in/2012/12/upsc-nda-1-2013-online-application-form.html. This may be outdated and you could try for the latest from various links therin. Please do prepare hard once you have made up your mind. Best of luck for your success anyway. Col LK Anand Retd