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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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JNU sedition: Court questions chargesheet without sanction

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New Delhi: A court here questioned Delhi Police on Saturday for filing a chargesheet against former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) president Kanhaiya Kumar and others in the 2016 JNU sedition case without procuring the requisite sanctions.

The police told Metropolitan Magistrate Deepak Sherawat they would procure the required sanctions within 10 days.

“Why did you file (the chargesheet) without approval? You don’t have a legal department,” the court said.

 

The court is likely to resume hearing on the matter soon.

Delhi Police had on January 14 filed the chargesheet at a city court against Kumar and others, saying he was leading a procession and supported seditious slogans raised on the university campus during an event in February 2016.

Police also charged former JNU students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya with allegedly shouting anti-India slogans during the event held on February 9, 2016, to commemorate the hanging of Parliament-attack mastermind Afzal Guru. PTI

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Volcano waiting to erupt in Cong-JD(S) alliance : Yeddyurappa

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Bengaluru: Karnataka BJP president BS Yeddyurappa has said some Congress MLAs skipping the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting and the deep differences between the ruling coalition partners are an indication that a volcano may erupt in the coming days.

His remarks came after four dissident Congress MLAs skipped the CLP meeting here that was called as a show of strength against an alleged bid by the BJP to dislodge the HD Kumaraswamy-led Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) government.

“The absence of Congress MLAs from the CLP meeting and deep differences between the coalition partners are an indication that this is likely to erupt as a volcano in the coming days,” Yeddyurappa said on Friday evening here.

 

Their absence also showed intense and widespread anger and resentment among Congress MLAs, he said.

The BJP chief said the tone of CLP leader Siddaramaiah’s warning to the party MLAs showed his frustration and fear.

“ Siddaramaiah, the tone, tenor and content of the meeting notice given by you to the MLAs shows your frustration and proves that you are gripped by fear. If your relationship with the MLAs was strong and cordial, why did you mention in the notice that action would be taken as per the anti-defection law?” Yeddyurappa asked.

The Congress would issue notices to absentee MLAs–Ramesh Jarkiholi, B Nagendra, Umesh Jadhav and Mahesh Kumatahalli, Siddaramaiah had told reporters after Friday’s meeting.

Yeddyurappa also attacked Congress general secretary KC Venugopal over his remarks that ‘Operation Lotus’ commenced in Karnataka in 2008.

The BJP chief said it was the Congress which started the “aaya ram, gaya ram” culture, referring to the practice of MLAs defecting to other parties, he said.

“In 1967, the then prime minister Indira Gandhi had said that ‘gaya ram has now become aaya ram’ when an MLA of her United Front government had joined and quit the Congress three times in a gap of 15 days,” he said.

The former chief minister said it would be better if Siddaramaiah and Venugopal studied political history to know what happened in Haryana where the Congress had formed the government with Bhajan Lal with the help of 36 Janata Party MLAs.

The Congress is continuing this culture, Yeddyurappa said.

It looked like that Siddaramaiah had forgotten that he too joined the Congress with the same culture, he added.

Yeddyurappa said the BJP was not lusting for power.

With 104 seats, the BJP is functioning as a vigilant and constructive opposition party and the Congress and the JD(S) with 80 and 37 seats, respectively, had formed an unholy alliance to form the government, he said.

Kumaraswamy and Siddaramaiah should realise that this is first time in the history of legislature that a party with more than 100 seats is sitting in the opposition.

Yeddyurappa said the BJP’s MLAs assembled at a Gurugram hotel to discuss the strategy to win the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

“If 104 MLAs of our party meet at one place and discuss the strategy to win the Lok Sabha, what is your problem? It is your responsibility to keep your party MLAs under control. If you scream the way you have been doing, it only shows your helplessness,” he said.

Taking a dig at Venugopal’s remarks that “glorious days” of the grand old party must return, Yeddyurappa asked if he was referring to the return of “multi-crore scams of the Congress-led UPA regime”.

He accused the Congress and the JD(S) of fooling people and said while the two parties were friends in Karnataka, they were enemies in Kolkata.

“As usual the JD(S) has been playing a double-game. The JD(S) needs the Congress on the one hand, and on the other, the JD(S) wants ‘mahagathbandhan’, which the Congress does not want,” Yeddyurappa claimed.

The double standards of these parties showed that there is no alternative to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said.

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India does not belong to any particular religion, caste or language:Gadkari

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Nagpur: Union minister Nitin Gadkari said this country does not belong to any particular religion, caste, or language.

Addressing a gathering during the distribution of ownership pattas to slum dwellers he said the party had never done politics based on caste or religion and theirs was a politics of service and development.

He said India was of every person who loved it, be it a Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Jain, Christians or others.

 

“We have never done politics based on caste or religion… We never did politics on caste, religion and language. But, we did politics of service and development of poor,” he said.

“Because a poor man is poor, be it a Muslim, Jain, Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Dalit or a tribal,” he said.

He further said that there cannot be partiality in the work of development.

“We know that those who cannot compete with us on the development front, try to scare people with poison of casteism and communalism,” he said.

He said it was said that if Gadkari gets elected then “you will be sent to Pakistan” and questioned, “What did I do, whom did I scare and whom was I unjust to”.

He said the party will work for people whether or not they vote for it.

“This country does not belong to any particular religion, caste, or language. This country is of every person who loves it, be it a Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Jain, Christian and others,” said Gadkari.

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