New Delhi: In a strong indictment of the inadequate budgetary allocation for the Army, Vice-Chief of Army Staff (VCOS) Lt. Gen. Sarath Chand told the parliamentary panel on defence that Budget 2018-19 has “dashed” all hopes of modernisation of the force which is saddled with equipment of which more than two-third is “vintage”.
He added that the marginal increase in the budgetary allocation barely accounts for inflation, and the Army won’t be able to pay instalments of past purchases with the money it has received.
“Budget 2018-19 has dashed our hopes and most of what has been achieved has actually received a little setback,” Lt. Gen. Chand said while deposing before the panel, and added that this may lead to foreclosure of 25 “Make in India” defence projects that are currently in the pipeline.
“The marginal increase in budget estimates 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 Rs 29,033 crore for 125 ongoing schemes, emergency procurements, and other DGOF requirements. Committed liabilities of 2017 which will also get passed on to 2018 will further accentuate the situation,” Lt. Gen. Chand said and added that after these payouts, there will be “hardly any funds for new schemes in 2018-19.”
The Army has been given Rs 17,756 crore lesser than what it had requested.
On the quality of equipment, the VCOS said, “The state today is 68 per cent of our equipment is in the vintage category, with just about 24 per cent in the current and 8 per cent in the state-of-art category.”