Army says doesn’t have enough money to pay for emergency procurements
New Delhi: The Indian Army has told a parliamentary panel that it does not have enough money to pay for emergency purchases that it made in the aftermath of the 2016 Uri attack and the 2017 military Dokalam standoff against China.
Neither does it have adequate resources to undertake the construction of strategic roads on the China border.
According to media reports, the vice chief of Army Staff Lt Gen. Sarath Chand has told the parliamentary standing committee on defence that at present, 68% of its equipment is of “vintage category.”
The parliamentary panel is headed by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s B.C. Khanduri.
“Allocation of Rs21,338 crore for modernisation is insufficient even to cater for committed payments of Rs29,033 crore for 123 on-going schemes, emergency procurements and other requirements,” Chand told the panel. “As far as we are concerned, the state’s 68% equipment is in the vintage category, with just about 24% in the current and 8% in the state-of-the-art category,” Lt. General Sarath Chand told the panel.
According to a government statement issued in February, the annual budget presented by finance minister Arun Jaitely for 2018-19 envisages a total outlay of Rs24,42,213 crore.
“Out of this, Rs2,95,511.41 crore has been earmarked for defence. This accounts for 12.10% of the total central government expenditure for the year 2018-19,” the statement said.
“The allocation of Rs2,95,511.41 crore represents a growth of 7.81% over Budget Estimates of Rs2,74,114.12 crore and 5.91% over Revised Estimates of Rs2,79,003.85 crore, respectively, for the financial year 2017-18,” it added.
The Indian Army had initiated a series of emergency procurements of ammunition, anti-tank missiles, rifles and stores after the 2016 Uri terrorist attack and the subsequent surgical strikes against terrorist launch pads across the Line of Control in Pakistan administered territory. It had also started purchases of equipment after the Dokolam standoff last year with Chinese troops.
Stating that the low budget would also have an adverse impact on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship ‘Make in India’ initiatives, Chand said that the 25 projects that it has selected will not be rolled out.
“There isn’t adequate budget to support this. As a result, many of these may end up foreclosed,” he said.
“We have a large number of Chinese strategic roads and also infrastructural development along the northern borders. For these infrastructure developments, the allocation is falling short by around Rs902 crore from what we have demanded,” Chand said.
The parliamentary standing committee on defence has been advocating the creation of a non-lapsable, roll-over fund for modernisation of the armed forces, which would collect all unspent amount from the defence capital budget at the end of a financial year into a corpus that can be used for future purchases.
This concept was given a go-ahead by the defence ministry last year but the finance ministry is yet to give the proposal the go-ahead.