Indian Army’s modernisation plan for current fiscal has been seriously hit with Finance Ministry re-appropriating Rs 3,000 crore ostensibly on account of delayed spending last month and the force left with only Rs 950 crore to spend for its 106 plan proposals.
Non-availability of funds has resulted in Army’s critical modernisation proposals being shelved this year. This includes procurement of ultra light howitzers for artillery, replacements in the helicopter fleet, raising of a Pinaka multi-barrel rocket regiment, component level repair facility for T-90 tanks and equipment for special forces. Besides there is a serious shortage of armour piercing shells for tanks and artillery.
Defence Ministry sources said out of a total allocation of some Rs 10,000 crore as modernisation budget 2011-2012 for the Indian Army, Rs 4,000 crore was spent by the military towards committed liabilities. Out of the remaining amount, Rs 2,000 crore was given to Director General, Ordnance Factories.
While top ministry officials said that 66% of the defence budget had been spent by December 2011, they confirmed that Finance Ministry had taken away Rs 3000 crore from Army’s modernisation budget last month as the military acquisition process was slow.
However, Army says that only Rs 320 crore has been spent on 106 proposals that were submitted the Defence Ministry for military modernisation plan at the beginning of the fiscal. “What modernisation we can do with only Rs 950 crore left for a million-strong force,” said a senior official from the headquarters.
Although the Army blames the Finance Ministry for re-appropriating Rs 3,000 crore, the latter says the money was taken back as there was no way the military could have spend it this year due to delayed decision making.