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Army complains of fund 'shortfall': Parl Panel flays govt

Army complains of fund 'shortfall': Parl Panel flays govt

New Delhi, Mar 13 (UNI) The Modi-government’s hyped defence preparedness came under attack on Tuesday when a Parliamentary panel said the top Army officials have told the committee as there has been a "shortfall" of around Rs 12, 296 crore and that the poor allocation of funds in Budget has "dashed hopes" on defence procurement.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence headed by BJP MP Maj Gen BC Khanduri said the panel is “alarmed” to note that the none other than Vice Chief of the Army Lt Gen Sarath Chand had said that the budget allocation has “dashed our hopes and most of what has been achieved (defence procurement) has actually received a little setback.”

The issue of fund shortage which has also hampered ‘Make in India’ initiative of the defence ministry could be now raised in the ongoing Budget session of Parliament by several opposition parties.

Sources said several opposition parties including the Congress, Trinamool Congress, Left and even Biju Janata Dal would take up the issue of shortage of funds - as claimed by the Army and highlighted in the Standing Committee report tabled in both Houses of Parliament on Tuesday.

"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.

In his oral submission, the Vice Chief had 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 Rs 902 crore from what we have demanded. There is an overall shortfall of around Rs 12,296 crore as far as capital is concerned."

In the report, the 31-member panel which has among others --- Gaurav Gogoi, Ambika Soni (both Congress), MM Joshi, Kalraj Mishra and Subramanian Swamy (all BJP) and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda -- said that many of the projects under 'Make in India' flagship programme of the government which aims at achieving greater indeginization in defence sector face the bleak possibility of getting foreclosed.

The Indian Army has earmarked 25 projects for 'Make in India' for indeginized production but the Committee said, "No substantial progress was made in providing adequate budget for all those projects identified under 'Make in India'."

The panel “fervently urged the ministry of defence to ensure that the allocations to the services be suitably enhanced.”

It further said in the wake of attacks on military stations and accommodations, the government should prepare a separate budget for ensuring security of the military establishments.

The Committee expressed “disappointment” to note that the finance ministry has not agreed to the proposal of creating a ‘Non-lapsable Defence Capital Fund Account’ and said that such a fund should not cater for making facilities or social schemes but it must address “the imperative need for enhancement and heightened operational preparedness of our defence forces”.

In the Budget Estimates (BE) of 2018-19, the total projection made by the Army was Rs 1,96,387.36 crore while the allocation against the projection stood at Rs 1,53,875.22 crore, which is a budget deficit of nearly 23 per cent.

UNI ASH/DEVN 1946

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