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Punjab CM Amarinder slams Centre, says army not for building bridges

Amarinder said that he army’s job is to train for war and protect the country’s borders, not to build bridges and clean the roads.

punjab Updated: Oct 31, 2017 22:43 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Capt Amarinder Singh,Indian army,Nirmala Sitharaman
He said that this move will further impact the army’s resources(HT File photo)

Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh has criticised the central government’s unprecedented decision to rope in the Indian Army for rebuilding the Elphinstone bridge and two other suburban train stations in Mumbai as “deplorable and an admission of the failure of the government and the Indian Railways”.

The army’s job is to train for war and protect the country’s borders, not to build bridges and clean the roads, Amarinder said in a statement on Tuesday, warning against serious implications of such misuse of the Indian armed forces by utilising their services for non-emergency civilian jobs.

“Whatever the urgency of the situation, it does not merit such a decision, which would have adverse long-term implications as it could encourage the civilian authorities to seek army help for major civilian works every time they find themselves ill-equipped to handle an infrastructural or other challenge”, he added.

Urging defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman to refrain from diverting critical defence resources of the country to civilian works, the CM said it would set a bad precedent.

“The minister was making the same mistake that Major General BM Kaul, GOC of Red Eagles’ 4th Division had made before the 1962 war with China. The scandalous misuse, by him, of military manpower to build accommodation cost the Indian Army heavy during the Sino-Indian war. The army would end up suffering similar lowering of its status. The defence minister, instead of being party to this decision and announcing it with such pride, should have categorically rejected any such suggestion in the interest of the armed forces,” Amarinder said.

As it is, he pointed out, the army is regularly used to help out in emergency situations such as floods and earthquakes, and is even engaged in infrastructural development in sensitive areas, such as the North-East. “If it is now burdened with the additional task of helping out in other civilian tasks, merely because the civilian authorities are unable to handle it, it would lead to lower the morale of the army personnel, who join the force with a vision to secure the country’s borders and protect its people from the enemy,” he said.

First Published: Oct 31, 2017 18:04 IST