Waking up to the reality that the armed forces deserve a better deal, the government on Thursday hiked allowances for soldiers deployed in high altitude areas and the counter-terrorism grid.
With Finance Minister P Chidambaram setting aside Rs 100 crore per year for troops deployed in unfriendly areas, officers and jawans deployed at heights of 14,000 feet to 19,000 feet will take home considerably higher high-altitude (HA) allowance. An officer drawing a monthly HA allowance of Rs 1,600 will now get Rs 5,600. Likewise, jawans drawing a measly Rs 400 a month will be entitled to an enhanced uncongenial climate allowance of Rs 3,734.
After touring the country’s farthest frontiers, including Siachen Glacier, to gain first-hand knowledge of living conditions there, Defence Minister AK Antony had presented a set of proposals to the Union Cabinet.
It met under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday and also approved more rail travel facilities for troops in field, high altitude areas and the counter-terrorism specified regions. Plus, all service personnel will be eligible to undertake leave journey to their choice station without any restriction on distance. Information and Broadcasting Minister PR Dasmunsi said the decision would not only help in alleviating stress but also lift the morale of the defence personnel.
Funds to upgrade ITIs
The Cabinet also approved the World Bank funded Rs 1,581 crore vocational education training programme for upgrading 400 Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) aimed at improving employability of their students.
National anti-doping body
The Cabinet also approved ratification of the international convention against doping in sports and set the ball rolling for operationalising the National Anti-Doping Agency and upgrading the dope test laboratory.
(With inputs from Chetan Chauhan and Aloke Tikku)