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Army to close down its dairies, give 25,000 cows to states, central body

Indian army’s 39 military farms that supplied 21 crore litres of milk will be shut down as part of an overhaul that will deploy more personnel and resources in combat roles

india Updated: Aug 31, 2017 13:06 IST
The Indian army runs 39 dairy farms, where more than 2,000 people -- mostly defence civilians -- are employed.(AFP file photo)

The Indian army will give away 25,000 cows to state governments and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research as it shuts down 39 military dairies across the country.

The government decided to shut these farms down to free up resources — mostly prime real estate and the revenue spent on them — as part of a major military overhaul that was announced on Wednesday.

Defence minister Arun Jaitley announced that a revamp process has begun and by 2019, more than 57,000 soldiers will be redeployed to combat roles from other positions.

The farms were raised in 1889 and are spread over more than 20,000 acres of prime real estate in cities such as Ambala, Kolkata, Srinagar, Agra, Pathankot, Lucknow, Meerut, Allahabad and Guwahati.

The farms supplied more than 21 crore litres of milk to the army, accounting for 14% of the total requirement.

In all, these dairies employ more than 2,000 people — most of them defence civilians.

Their closure follows recommendations made by an 11-member expert panel, headed by Lieutenant General DB Shekatkar (retd), on enhancing the military’s combat potential and trimming its revenue expenditure.

In line with those recommendations, Jaitley said on Wednesday that “far-reaching” restructuring had started to improve army’s tooth-to-tail ratio - the number of personnel (tail) required to support a combat soldier (tooth). The exercise, he said, would be completed by December 2019. The army consists of around 40,525 officers and 1.15 million other ranks.

The Shekatkar panel made a total of 188 recommendations of which 99 have been approved by the government and 65 are being implemented.

Talking to HT from Pune, Shekatkar hailed the move saying it would beef up the army’s “combat potential, capability and endurance.”

“This is perhaps the first time a committee’s recommendations on military restructuring have been implemented. We made 188 recommendations in March. We hope all the remaining recommendations will also be implemented as they too are very significant.”

First Published: Aug 31, 2017 13:05 IST