Army critical of defence budget

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Army critical of defence budget

On the quality of equipment being used by the Army, the VCOS said, "The state today is 68 per cent of our equipment is in the vintage category, with just about 24 per cent in the current and 8 per cent in the state-of-art category".

In a strong indictment of the inadequate budgetary allocation for the Indian Army, Vice Chief of Army Staff (VCOS) Lt. Gen. Sarath Chand told the parliamentary panel on defence that Budget 2018-19 has "dashed" all hopes of modernisation of the force which is saddled with equipment of which more than two-third is "vintage". "As a result of which many of these may end up foreclosed", he said. He also talked of the increasing cross-border firing along the Pakistan border, high number of civilian injuries and deaths, and Fidayeen attacks on army establishments.

The Indian government has set June 2018 as its target for meeting critical shortage of ammunition held by the force - a deficiency that, experts say, limits the force's ability to fight prolonged wars. As far as we are concerned ... But the over 12-lakh strong Indian Army is grappling with an alarming 8% (state-of-the-art), 24% (current) and 68% (vintage) weaponry mix while it's engaged in daily cross-border firing duels with Pakistan and heightened tensions with China since the Doklam stand-off a year ago.

"We in the Army have identified as many as 25 projects for Make in India".

He also said that "Make in India" is a great step taken by the Ministry of Defence towards development and self-reliance, but there is not enough money available for the army to take up projects.

India allocated Rs 2.95 lakh crore for military spending in 2018-19, a modest hike of 7.8% over last year's budget of Rs 2.74 lakh crore. However, there is not adequate budget to support this. The capital outlay shortfall is Rs 17,757 crore for Army, Rs 15,692 crore for Navy and Rs 41,925 crore for IAF. "Nearly 35 per cent of our budget goes into nation building", he said. He said the IAF had two major requirements immediately.

In addition to this, there is an additional burden of Rs. 5,000 crore because of new taxation laws in Goods and Services Tax (GST), which has come into force in the last one year and which has also not been taken care of in the latest Budget. The Army had asked for 37,000 crore.

The parliamentary panel is headed by the Bharatiya Janata Party's B.C. Khanduri.

"We will raise the issue as government owes an answer as to why Army officials are not happy with the Budget allocation", a Congress member told UNI on the condition of anonymity. Against a projection of Rs 2,116 crore to meet these requirements, the allocation stands at Rs 1,600 crore, the panel was told. Similarly, taking note of the "unsympathetic attitude" towards naval modernisation, the committee said, "A budget deficit of almost 40% will indeed have a cascading impact on the operational preparedness and technological up-gradation of the Navy".

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