Army modernisation plan hit as budget cut by Rs 5,000 cr

Army modernisation plan hit as budget cut by Rs 5,000 cr

The Army’s plan to modernise its arsenal with the latest weaponry has taken a beating as the Finance Ministry has cut the budget by almost about Rs 5,000 crore, leaving little money to make fresh purchase.

Army Chief Gen Dalbir Singh on Tuesday said the Army identified seven critical projects, which would be pursued for equipping the soldiers with advanced firepower and mobility.

While at least two of them were approved by the Defence Acquisition Council headed by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, others are under consideration.

But for 2013-14, the Army's capital budget, meant for acquisition, was reduced by about Rs 5,000 crore as the money was transferred to revenue heads used for paying salary, pension and fuel bill, a senior Army official told Deccan Herald here.

Since 2009-10, the Army’s capital budget is on a continuous decline hitting the lowest point in 2013-14 when the capital budget was only 18 per cent of the total allocation. This was spent mostly on the “committed liabilities” or existing purchases.

“Our additional demand (for grants) was not met and about Rs 5,000 crore was shifted to the revenue,” said the officer. Other two services are also likely to have suffered from the budget cut but details are not available at the moment.

One of the reasons behind enhancement of revenue budget is the NDA government’s plan to implement one-rank-one-pension (OROP) plan for ex-servicemen.

The government accepted the OROP in principle and modalities of implementation are being discussed. Last month, Parrikar said OROP, which was announced in the last budget, would be implemented before the next budget.

Out of the seven critical projects outlined by the Army chief, 814 artillery guns at a cost of Rs 15,750 crore and more than 8,000 third generation anti-tank missiles (from Israel) at a cost of Rs 3,700 crore, were approved by the DAC.

Both would have to be cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security before the procurement process starts because any project with more than Rs 1,000 crore budget needs CCS approval.

The remaining five projects are, acquiring helicopter for the Army, upgrading tanks and BMP armoured vehicles, procurement of assault rifles, bullet proof jackets and helmets for the infantry soldiers and night vision for the mechanised forces and infantry.

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