House panel: Defence budget inadequate, can’t modernise

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From: Indian Express By: AFP Published at: March 13, 2018
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In an indictment of budgetary allocations made for the services, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence has noted that the fund allocation “is not supportive to the inevitable needs of the Army”. The committee also found that there are “huge deficiencies and obsolescence of weapons, stores and ammunition existing in Indian Army”.

In its 41st report presented to the Parliament Tuesday, the committee, headed by BJP MP Maj Gen (retd) B C Khanduri, observed that the “allocation of Rs 21,338 crore for modernisation is insufficient even to cater to committed payments to the extent of Rs 29,033 crore, earmarked for 125 ongoing schemes, emergency procurement of armaments and weaponry for 10 days of intense war {10 (I)} and other Director General Ordnance Factories requirements”.

The committee is scathing on the 4.5 per cent increase in the revenue component of the Army’s budget, as it will all go towards the hike in pay due to implementation of the recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission. Out of a projection of Rs 40,073 crore for operations and maintenance, the committee notes that only an allocation of Rs 30,791 crore has been made. “The budget for operations and maintenance is a critical component for ensuring operational preparedness at any given point of time,” the committee said.

In its submission to the committee, the Army had stated that “the budget for modernisation has to be anything between 22 to 25 per cent of the overall budget, lest the Army is found to be wanting” but it was “a mere 14 per cent of the allocation, which is grossly inadequate”.

In contrast to the requirement of the armed forces to have one-third of its equipment in the vintage category, one-third in the current category and one-third in the state-of-the-art category, the report states that “the current position in the Indian Army reveals that 68 per cent of equipment is of vintage category, just about 24 per cent of the current category, and only eight per cent of the state-of-the-art category”.

The report also states that the increase of only 2.84 per cent in the Navy’s budget “would not even cater to the inflationary pressure. Matters such as maintaining the requisite armament level as well as emergency procurements would indeed require more funds”.

A shortfall of Rs 6,440 crore in the revenue budget of the Indian Air Force, the committee states, “is likely to impact the operational preparedness, ability to procure spares & fuel, apart from leaving gaps in training programmes, serviceability of older systems and provision of basic amenities to Air Force personnel”.

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