The Vice Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Sarath Chand has slammed the poor budgetary allocations for the army for 2018-19 calling it inadequate. Lt Gen Chand also warned that this will severely affect several ongoing projects undertaken by the Indian army.
In his oral deposition to the parliamentary standing committee on defence, Lt Gen Chand said, “Budget has dashed our hopes, most of what has been achieved has actually received setback. To highlight a few cases, the marginal increase in BE barely accounts for the inflation and does not even cater for the taxes. 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.
“We in Army have identified as many as 25 projects for Make in India. However, There is not adequate budget to support this. As a result of which, many of these may end up foreclosed.”
Lt Gen Chand also added that ‘typically, any modern armed forces should have one-third of forces, 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.’
He went on to add, “In the army, we are looking forward to manufacturing the future ready combat vehicles, FRCVs, and FICVs, Future Infantry Combat Vehicles through these schemes. However, with the kind of budgest that has been allocated, this may get delayed by a few years. I am not sure what’s going to be their future.”
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.”
It added, “Much to the distress of the Committee, however, they have been briefed that, over the years, the Indian Army has accumulated a substantial deficiency of weapons, stores and ammunition. This is because adequate attention has been lacking both in terms of policy and budget for modernizing the aging armoury.”
Army has accumulated substantial deficiency of weapon, possibility of 'two-front war'. An Army representative to St Committee on Defence…Apart from Vice Chief of Army expressing deep angst on Defence Budget pic.twitter.com/i43bpzVBzd
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Lt Gen Chand’s criticism for the poor budgetary allocations assumes significance in light of the established tradition in the Indian democracy, where the serving generals have usually avoided to criticise the government’s policy so openly.