Published: Wed, March 14, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Make in India projects may not take off

Make in India projects may not take off

The Army, for instance, has got just 60% of its projected requirement under the capital head for modernisation and new weapon systems. "We have a large number of Chinese strategic roads and also infrastructure development along the northern borders".

The army official said modernisation of both Pakistani and Chinese forces is "going on in full swing". The Army feels a two-front war scenario is a clear and present danger. "As a result, many of these may end up foreclosed", he said. "But, the current Budget does little to contribute to this requirement".

"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. "Allocation of Rs 21,338 rore for modernization is insufficient even to cater for committed payment of Rs 29,033 crore", Lt General Chand told the committee headed by BJP MP Major General B C Khanduri (retired).

The army vice chief pointed out that in modern militaries, a third of equipment is vintage. As far as we are concerned.

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.

"Budget 2018-19 has dashed our hopes and most of what has been achieved has actually received a little setback", Lt Gen Chand said while deposing before the panel, and added that this may lead to foreclosure of 25 "Make in India" defence projects that are now in the pipeline. "We need 20-25 per cent of Army Budget for modernization".

The Army's frustrations over inadequate allocations of funds in the defence budget figured in a report of the Standing Committee on Defence which was tabled in Lok Sabha today.

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Lt Gen Chand also raised several other budget-related concerns like the prospect of Future Ready Combat Vehicles and upgradation of existing equipment.

The committee is scathing on the 4.5 per cent increase in the revenue component of the Army's budget, as it will all go towards the hike in pay due to implementation of the recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission.

In the Union Budget 2018, for the Ministry of Defence an estimated Rs 2.95 lakh crores have been sanctioned, only an increase of 7.81 percent from last year's allocation.

The Army representatives in their deposition also blamed the new tax laws under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime for burdening the force with requirement of paying an additional Rs 5,000 crore.

Army has been allocated just Rs 268.2 billion for equipment modernisation against the Rs 445.7 billion it had projected, according to a draft report by Parliament's Standing Committee on Defence.

The parliamentary panel has, meanwhile, rapped the government for low allocation to the army. "This accounts for 12.10% of the total central government expenditure for the year 2018-19", the statement said.

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