Fund crunch hits Army's mountain strike corps

Fund crunch hits Army's mountain strike corps

Though more than Rs 12,000 crore was allocated for raising the Mountain Strike Corps, the Army is digging into its already constrained war wastage reserve to equip the new formation, which would be trained to attack the enemy in the mountains.

The government approved raising of the new strike corps in 2013 and the money was allocated in the subsequent year. But the Army used weapons and stores from the war wastage reserves that are not to be touched.  The Army is supposed to maintain a war wastage reserve of 40 days for its operational readiness, but continue to suffer from a shortage. To tide over the crisis, the Army in 1999 came up with the idea of minimum acceptable risk level (MARL) for keeping ammunition stock at least for 20 days. After 15 years, even the threshold of MARL has not been achieved. “As there are already serious shortages in the current WWR, which does not even cater fully to the existing demand, how could it can be further milked to create new assets like Mountain Strike Corps,” says a report from the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence.

The new strike corps is being raised as per the availability of budget as the ministry’s tendency is to reply on ad-hoc planning, suggesting casual approach from the Defence Ministry. Earlier this year, Parrikar announced downsizing the new strike corps by half for want of funds. The previous government estimated it would cost Rs 88,000 crore and will have 70,000 soldiers, the NDA government froze the cost at Rs 38,000 crore over the next eight years and the strike corps will consist of 35,000 men.

Most of the border connectivity projects involving road and rail links have been stuck for want of funds and manpower. The Defence Ministry acknowledges the huge delay in implementing the border road, railway and helipad projects, but don’t tell the committee how to resolve the problems.

On operationalising eight advanced landing grounds in the North East, six were to be completed by April, 2015.

In reality, small amount of work took place in six of these ALGs – Ziro, Passighat, Mechuka, Walong, Along and Tuting – whereas the work at Tawang is yet to receive the administrative approval. The work on Vijaynagar ALG has been postponed due to lack of road connectivity.

Several Border Roads Organisation road-building and border connectivity projects in the western sector – starting from Jammu and Kashmir to the plains of Punjab and Rajasthan – are nowhere near completion though they were approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security in 2000.The new strike corps is being raised as per the availability of budget as the ministry’s tendency is to reply on ad-hoc planning, suggesting casual approach.

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