Army, Air Force sounds major funds crunch; 2018 budget dashed hopes

Army, Air Force sounds major funds crunch; 2018 budget dashed hopes

Allocation of Rs 21,338 crore for modernisation is insufficient even to cater for committed payment of 29,033 crore for 125 on-going schemes.

If Lt General Chand's deposition was not damaging enough, the defence panel noted that "a representative of the army submitted while deposing before the Committee that taking into consideration, the possibility of a 'two-front war, ' it is of utmost importance to remain conscious and pay due attention to modernization and bridging the deficiencies". Chand also said that the defence budget "has dashed our hopes" and the marginal increase in it barely accounts for inflation and doesn't cater for taxes.

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.

Highlighting the need for more funds, he said typically any modern force should have its equipment divided in one-third each covering all categories of vintage, current and state-of-the-art. Lt Gen Chand also warned that this will severely affect several ongoing projects undertaken by the Indian army.

On the "Make in India" projects being pushed by the government, the VCOS said many projects may not be able to take off. "More than ever, there is an increasing obligation to ensure that our nation cements its military capability and is recognised as a net security provider in the South Asia region", he said.

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The Army has been given Rs 17,756 crore lesser than what it had requested.

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. 63 per cent of Army budget goes into paying salaries, 14 per cent for modernization.

In contrast to the requirement of the armed forces to have one-third of its equipment in the vintage category, one-third in the current category and one-third in the state-of-the-art category, the report states that "the current position in the Indian Army reveals that 68 per cent of equipment is of vintage category, just about 24 per cent of the current category, and only eight per cent of the state-of-the-art category".

A shortfall of Rs 6,440 crore in the revenue budget of the Indian Air Force, the committee states, "is likely to impact the operational preparedness, ability to procure spares & fuel, apart from leaving gaps in training programmes, serviceability of older systems and provision of basic amenities to Air Force personnel".

The parliamentary panel has, meanwhile, rapped the government for low allocation to the army. The allocation made against this projection is Rs 1,53,875.22 crore. "Considering the facts of the matter, the committee is of the view that providing adequate budgetary support is unavoidable", the panel observed.

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