Published: Wed, March 14, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

Defence budget inadequate: Army tells Parliamentary panel

Defence budget inadequate: Army tells Parliamentary panel

At a time when China has exponentially increased its military expenditure, the Indian Army's hopes for modernisation, according to Vice Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Sarath Chand, has suffered a setback because of money allocated in Defence Budget 2018-19.

Chand said that 68% of the Army's equipment was in the "vintage" category, while only 24% was in the "current" category and 8% was state-of-the art.

The acceptable ratio for any modern army is that one-third of the equipment should be in the vintage category, one third in the current category and one-third in the state-of-the-art category.

The marginal increase in budgetary estimates barely account for inflation, Lt Gen Sarath Chand had told the panel, adding that the army's 25 "Make in India" projects may end up foreclosed. He said the funds crunch could make the Prime Minister's "Make in India" programme in defence a non-starter.

Several such military capabilities have been identified in the defence ministry's new "Technology Perspective and Capability Roadmap-2018" to provide the industry with an overview of the country's offensive and defensive military requirements up to the late 2020s.

"Allocation of Rs 21,338 crore for modernisation is insufficient even to cater for committed payments of Rs 29,033 crore for 123 on-going schemes, emergency procurements and other requirements", Lt. Gen. Chand has told the panel.

The Army also informed the panel that it does not have adequate resources to even undertake the construction of strategic roads near the Sino-India border.

"The Budget 2018-19 has dashed our hopes and most of what has been achieved has actually received a little setback", Chand said to the panel. "We are aghast to note this dismal scenario where the representatives of the Services have themselves frankly explained the negative repercussions on our defence preparedness due to inadequate fund allocations", said the panel in a series of reports tabled in Parliament on Tuesday.

This concept was given a go-ahead by the defence ministry previous year but the finance ministry is yet to give the proposal the go-ahead.

The Army, for instance, has got just 60% of its projected requirement under the capital head for modernisation and new weapon systems.

The Army told the committee that it is short of Rs 6,380 crore to build ammunition stocks necessary for fighting an intense war for 10 days. The allocation made against this projection is Rs 1,53,875.22 crore.

As reported by ThePrint, the Indian defence budget is now dangerously skewed as the revenue bill has zoomed over the years. While the IAF does not have enough fighters, mid-air refuellers, AWACS and drones, the Navy is grappling with the lack of adequate number of submarines, multi-role helicopters and minesweepers.

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