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Cash crunch, Army lists high-end ammunition it won’t buy

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New Delhi :Suffering from a shortage of funds due to limited allocation in the defence budget, the Army has identified certain types of expensive ammunition and spares which it will not be procuring even though their stocks would not be sufficient for even 10 days of war. Taken along with other measures to save funds, this will still leave the Army with an estimated shortfall of 15-25 per cent in critical ammunition.

This issue has been deliberated at the ongoing Army Commanders Conference, chaired by Army Chief General Bipin Rawat. Sources told The Indian Express that the conference is likely to accept the proposal that stocks of certain types of critical ammunition which include Smerch rockets, Konkurs missiles, tank ammunition (APFSDS, Smoke) and influence mines, will have to be less than those needed for 10 days of war fighting.

Smerch is a Soviet-origin Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), designed to defeat soft and hard-skinned targets, artillery and missile systems; Konkur is Soviet origin standard Anti Tank Guided Missile used by mechanised infantry; Armour Piercing Fin Stabilized Discarding Sabot or APFSDS is the most common type of anti-tank shell used by T-90 main battle tanks, while smoke shells are fired for generating smoke. Influence mines are used to immobilize contemporary battle tanks via an electro-magnetic field.

 

These ammunition were identified as these are expensive.

While the government mandates the Army to have ammunition and spares for 40 days of intense war fighting, stocks required for 10 days of intense fighting are considered absolutely critical. The critical shortage of ammunition in the Army has been adversely commented upon by the CAG in its report last year.

The Army has also decided, sources said, that instead of spending money on spares for sustaining vintage equipment — such as OSA AK missiles, Tangushka anti-aircraft weapon system, Kraz and ZIL high mobility vehicles — which have low usage, it would invest in capital procurement of new equipment.

During his deposition to the parliamentary standing committee on defence last month, Army Vice Chief Lt General Sarath Chand had gone on record that 68 per cent of the Army’s equipment was of “vintage category”.

“These measures are being recommended to be taken with an aim to optimize our limited budget to ensure making up of critical deficiencies in ammunition in the next 2-3 years. We are hoping for a savings of Rs 600-800 crore in each of the next three financial years by prioritizing our expenditure,” a senior army official told The Indian Express.

“Despite these steps, we will still have a 15-25% shortfall in critical ammunition requirement for which we need additional funds. We are hoping for a supplementary budgetary allocation this year,” the official added.

Sources said while Army Headquarters, in the last two financial years, spent Rs 11,000 crore under emergency procurement of ammunition and another Rs 15,000 crore for making up the shortfall in stocks needed for 10 days of war fighting, the government had not allocated any additional funds for it.

With routine funds being diverted for these procurements, there has been a shortfall in routine procurement of ammunition and spares as per plan which has aggravated the crisis.

Sources said that the average annual expenditure on ammunition prior to FY 2017-18 used to be Rs 4600-4700 crore. While the government had now delegated powers to the Army Headquarters leading to increased expenditure, it had not made any matching allotment to utilize the powers without impacting routine procurement.

This was also highlighted by the Army Vice Chief during his deposition to the parliamentary standing committee last month. “Allocation of Rs 21,338 crore for modernization is insufficient even to cater for committed payment for 125 ongoing schemes, emergency procurements…,” he had said.


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National

Time and again exit polls have failed to catch people’s pulse: Naidu

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Amaravati: With most of the exit polls predicting a rout for his party in Andhra Pradesh, Telugu Desam party president N Chandrababu Naidu said that time and again such polls failed.

“Time and again exit polls have failed to catch the people’s pulse. Exit polls have proved to be incorrect and far from ground reality in many instances. While undoubtedly TDP govt will be formed in AP, we are confident that non-BJP parties will form a non-BJP govt at the center (sic),” Naidu said in a late night tweet.

Barring one or two, almost all exit polls predicted a thumping victory for the main opposition YSR Congress in the state elections. They also said the YSRC would win close to 20 of the 25 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

 

Though not dismal, the polls gave good numbers to the TDP as well. In another tweet, he said, “We reiterate our demand to the ECI to count VVPATs in at least 50 per cent of polling stations. VVPATs should be counted in 5 polling stations in each Assembly Constituency at the beginning of counting process. In case of discrepancy, all VVPATs of Assembly Constituency shall be counted. (sic)”

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‘What has he achieved by sitting inside the cave?’ LJD on PM’s Kedarnath visit

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New Delhi: Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) leader Sharad Yadav took a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for visiting and meditating at Kedarnath temple and allowing media to cover it on a large scale even as the last phase of seven-phased Lok Sabha election was underway.

He asked if the Prime Minister wants to convert the Lok Sabha into a ‘Kirtan Sabha’.

“The Prime Minister of the biggest democracy in the world is sitting inside the cave. What has he achieved by sitting inside the cave? Did any invention take place? Does he want to convert the Lok Sabha into a Kirtan Sabha?” Yadav said while speaking to ANI.

 

Prime Minister Modi on Saturday offered prayers at the Himalayan shrine of Kedarnath, a day after campaigning for the Lok Sabha polls came to a close.

After spending over 15-hours meditating inside a holy cave of Kedarnath, he visited Badrinath, another temple in Uttarakhand’s revered ‘Char Dham’ on Sunday.

Several opposition leaders have been targeting Modi for his visit to Kedarnath and Badrinath temples stating that his action was a clear violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) and it influences voters through a public display of his personal religious activities.

Echoing similar sentiments, the LJD leader said: “I do not understand what people get from such caves? Did people bring him to the Centre to perform religious activities? This is all drama to gain publicity for which the Prime Minister has even violated poll conduct.”

Yadav, on being asked about his view on the exit polls which are giving a clear majority to BJP-led NDA at the Centre, said: “Exit polls have no value. This is unfortunate for the country that we copy everything from the United States and Europe. Exit poll cannot be held in this country. I personally never believe in the exit polls as they have no accurate figures.”

ABP-Nielsen poll projected 267 for the NDA, 127 for the UPA and 148 for ‘Others’. Of the ‘Others’, the grand alliance in Uttar Pradesh is getting an estimated 50 seats.

Voting was held on Sunday for 59 Lok Sabha seats — 13 each in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, nine in West Bengal, eight each in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, all four in Himachal Pradesh, three in Jharkhand and the lone seat of Union Territory Chandigarh.

As per the EC, a voter turnout of 62 percent was registered till 7 pm in the seventh phase. Counting of votes is scheduled on May 23.

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National

Exit polls are shown by media but BJP will be thrown out of power: Babbar

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Agra: Congress leader Raj Babbar claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP government will remain at the Centre only till 6 am on May 23 and they will be thrown out of power by 6 pm.

“Exit polls are being shown by the media. But what is in the people’s heart will be reflected in the results on May 23. People will surely tell their ‘Mann Ki Baat’ to PM Modi. This time, it has been ensured that Prime Minister Modi and BJP government will be in power till 6 am on May 23 and after 6 pm they will not be in power,” Raj Babbar said while speaking to ANI here.

The Congress leader, who is contesting from Agra, took a dig at Prime Minister Modi’s Kedarnath visit and the traditional Garwali outfit which he sported while offering prayers at the temple. “I wore several traditional outfits in my acting career and even went to sacred pilgrimage. I believe one should not comment on an individual’s religious sentiments but this was too much,” he said.

 

Several opposition leaders, including Congress president Rahul Gandhi, have been targeting Modi for his visit to Kedarnath and Badrinath temples stating that his action was a clear violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) and it influences voters through a public display of his personal religious activities.

Prime Minister Modi on Saturday offered prayers at the Himalayan shrine of Kedarnath, a day after campaigning for the Lok Sabha polls came to a close.

After spending over 15-hours meditating inside a holy cave of Kedarnath, he visited Badrinath, another temple in Uttarakhand’s revered ‘Char Dham’ on Sunday.

The exit polls are giving a clear majority to BJP-led NDA at the Centre. ABP-Nielsen poll projected 267 for the NDA, 127 for the UPA and 148 for ‘Others’ while CNN News 18-IPSOS exit poll gave the BJP and its allies the highest number of 336 seats with the saffron party on its own getting 276 seats, four more than it had won in the 2014 elections.

Voting was held on Sunday for 59 Lok Sabha seats — 13 each in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, nine in West Bengal, eight each in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, all four in Himachal Pradesh, three in Jharkhand and the lone seat of Union Territory Chandigarh.

As per the EC, a voter turnout of 62 per cent was registered till 7 pm in the seventh phase. Counting of votes is scheduled on May 23.

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