Defence budget inadequate, can't modernise forces: Parliamentary Standing Committee

Remigio Civitarese
Marzo 14, 2018

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". Allocation of Rs 21,338 crore for modernisation is insufficient even to cater for committed payment of 29,033 crore for 125 on-going schemes.

Addressing the panel of lawmakers, Indian Army's Vice Chief Lt Gen Sarath Chand said that the Army had found at least 25 projects under PM Narenda Modi's Make In India as part of modernisation, on projects.

The Army also revealed that the activities of Chinese military in Tibet have increased over the years, whether it is the quantum of troops or the number of personnel undertaking the exercises as well as the level of exercises.

Lt Gen Chand said, "We have seen more and more patrolling and transgressions".

"The possibility of a two-front war is a reality, and speaking about it, it is important that we are conscious of the issue and we pay attention to our modernisation and filling our deficiencies". "There isn't adequate budget to support this".

A modern military should typically have 30% of its weaponry and equipment in the state-of-the-art technology category, 40% in current category and 30% in vintage category. "As a result of which, many of these may end up foreclosed".

In the Union Budget 2018, for the Ministry of Defence an estimated Rs 2.95 lakh crores have been sanctioned, only an increase of 7.81 percent from last year's allocation.

Paining a "disturbed" security situation picture where China is becoming increasingly assertive alongside rising cross-border firing by Pakistan, a top Army officer has said a low defence budget has "dashed" the hopes of the forces and they have suffered a "little setback" because of it. 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 also not been taken care of in the latest Budget.

The Vice-Chief also pointed out that strategic roads at the China border and other infrastructure projects are getting affected due to shortage of funds by more than Rs 900 crore.

The parliamentary panel has, meanwhile, rapped the government for low allocation to the army. The allocated funds are not enough to even pay for "committed liabilities or instalments" of earlier arms contracts, leaving virtually nothing for new modernisation projects. "This amounts to a shortfall of Rs 42,512.14 crore or a "budget deficit" of almost 23 percent vis-a-vis the projection", the committee said.

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