New Delhi, Feb 5: The Congress on Tuesday charged the Narendra Modi Government with showing apathy towards the armed forces by effecting a cut in spending on welfare of defence personnel and war veterans, thus compromising on national security.
In a statement issued here, AICC media incharge Randeep Surjewala said,’’in the past five years, the Narendra Modi Government have taken systematic steps to lower the morale of our valiant soldiers. Budgetary cuts, lop-sided policy decisions and apathy towards the welfare of defence personnel and war veterans have been the cornerstone of Modi Government’s military policy.
"The Modi Government has Rs 5000 Cr to spend on its self-promotion, publicity and advertisement blitzing, but doesn’t have money for the salary, emoluments and weaponry of our Jawans at the border", he said.
In this context, he alleged that Principal Comptroller of Defence Accounts (PCDA), Pune,-the agency that disburses salaries and emoluments to officers has now taken a decision to freeze the temporary allowances, paid to officers when they travel for purposes such as tours and trainings.
‘’The Army has 40,000 officers and at any given time, at least 1,000 officers are on the move or on “temporary duty” to attend courses, planning conferences, Court of Inquiries (CoI), or exercises among other things,’’he said.
Charging the Modi government with effecting ‘back door’ cuts’ in spending on armed forces, Mr Surjewala cited in in this regard reports that the Ministry of Defence owed dues of Rs 1,600 crores for completion of military infrastructure putting the Security of military installations into jeopardy and also that Defence Ministry has not cleared the pending dues of Rs 2,000 crore to the Military Engineer Services Builders Association of India, for installing the hangers for Rafale aircraft- first of which is slated to arrive in September 2019.
He also pointed to reports that the Modi Government had imposed monthly limits on the quantity of items that can be purchased by individuals from Canteen Stores Department (CSD) outlets, that caters to serving and retired personnel who draw their remuneration from defence estimates as also report of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence headed by Major General BC Khanduri, having exposed the shameful state of neglect towards the requirements of Armed Forces, pointing out that 68 per cent of Army’s equipment is vintage; with no money for emergency weapons purchase.
He also questioned as to why the Army was forced to cut supplies by 50 per cent from Ordnance Factories, thereby forcing men and women in uniform to buy their own uniform and supplies.
Charging that Government’s apathy towards armed forces in past five years has compromised national security, Mr Surjewala said in the last 55 months of Modi Government; in Jammu and Kashmir alone, 439 Jawans have been martyred and 278 civilians have lost their precious lives, in Pakistan sponsored terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.
‘’Where is the ‘56 inches chest’ and ‘laalaankh’ as Pak commits more than 5000 ceasefire violations at the LoC and International border- a whopping 1000 per cent increase compared to the last 55 months of UPA,’’he asked.
Questioning the claims of the Governmet that the Defence allocation in this year’s budget would be crossing Rs 3,00,000 crore for the first time in 2019-20, Mr Surjewala said,’’last year’s Defence Budget (2018-19), was just 1.58 per cent (₹2,85,423 Cr) of GDP, lowest allocation since 1962. While the interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal in his “interim budget speech 2019-20” boastfully said; “Our defence budget will be crossing Rs 3,00,000 crore for the first time in 2019-20. The fact of the matter is that the budgetary allocation for 2019-2020 has witnessed a meagre increase of just 6.69 per cent.‘’ (UNI)