The necessary funds must be made available to the armed forces: By panel

Adequate budgetary allocations must be made available to the armed forces given the current scenario of heightened tensions with some neighboring countries, the parliamentary standing committee on defense said on Wednesday.

Referring to the discrepancy between the tri-services’ demand for capital spending and budget allocation, the panel recommended that the Department of Defense not make any spending cuts in future years.

In a report filed in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, the committee noted that a request for Rs 2,15,995 crore was projected under the head of capital for 2022-23, but the allocation made was Rs 1,52,369.61 crore.

He said such a reduction in funds could end up compromising the operational readiness of the defense services.

”The committee further notes that at the BE stage (budget estimate) in 2022-23, the gap between the planned and allocated budget for the Army, Navy and Air Force is Rs 14,729. .11 crore, Rs 20,031.97 crore and Rs 28,471.05 crore respectively, which are remarkably high,” he said.

The committee said it was of the view that in the “current scenario of heightened tensions with our neighboring countries, especially at our country’s borders, such a situation is not conducive to defense preparation.”

The panel, in its previous reports, recommended making the capital budget “non-perishable” and “revolving” in nature.

The committee said it was informed that a draft cabinet note for the non-perishable defense modernization fund is under consideration.

“The committee observes that out of the total budget allocation of Rs 3,43,822.00 in 2020-2021, only Rs 2,33,176.70 has been utilized by the ministry till December 2020,” he said.

The committee is headed by BJP MP Jual Oram and comprises around 30 lawmakers, including Congress MP Rahul Gandhi and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar.

The panel recommended that the Department of Defense expedite the establishment of the “Non-Perishable Defense Modernization Fund – Defense Renewal Fund” which could be used exclusively for the acquisition of critical defense assets at times reviews.

On the Indian Air Force (IAF), the committee said it should have “two frontal deterrent capabilities”, which is of the highest priority as the “threat from both sides of the Indian neighborhood is a reality that cannot be ignored”.

The committee was making a veiled reference to the security threats India faces along its borders with Pakistan and China. However, he did not name the two countries.

”Accordingly, equipping our armed forces with all possible combat capabilities is the need of the hour. The Air Force’s firepower is proportional to the fighter squadrons in its kitty,’ the panel said.

”During the evidence, Air Force officials contended that the squadron’s current authorized strength is 42. It was further stated that the total technical life of most of existing squadrons is expiring and as a result the squadron strength is gradually being depleted,” he added.

The committee also suggested that the IAF should ensure that new aircraft are procured in the near future to improve its combat capabilities.

“The committee is of the view that the strength of fighter squadrons cannot be counted solely on the number of aircraft, but also on their weapons-carrying capacity, lethality and range to fly and strike,” said he declared.

“Therefore, no compromises in terms of firepower and technology should be made when introducing fighter jets to the Air Force,” he added.

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)