NEW DELHI, MARCH 17:
Defence Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday said the third round of One Rank One Pension (OROP) arrears will be released shortly.
Jaitley, who was give additional charge of the Defence Ministry this week, was making an intervention in the Lok Sabha during a debate on the demands for grants of the Ministry.
Incidentally, in the supplementary grants table din Parliament on Friday, the Finance Ministry has sought Rs. 3,292.94 crore under the defence head to clear OROP and 7th Pay Commission arrears as well as dearness allowance.
Negating the Opposition’s apprehensions that cut in defence outlay would affect the preparedness of the armed forces due to lack of procurement, Jaitley said the forces were fully prepared to meet any challenge.
He rejected the Opposition’s charge that the government had ignored the needs of defence forces and not allocated adequate budget, saying it had signed 147 procurement contracts worth over Rs. 2.96 lakh crore in three years, and cited the examples of 155 mm ultra light Howitzer guns, Brahmos missiles Apache attack helicopters among others.
“This impression should not go that procurement is not happening… our Army is not prepared. Our defence forces are fully prepared to meet any challenge,” he said, adding that the matter of preparedness of defence forces should be bipartisan and not politicised.
He also rejected the charge that the ambitious ‘Make in India’ scheme had “failed” in the defence sector, saying 134 proposals worth over Rs. 4.45 lakh crore were signed and 100 of them were aimed at Buy and Make in India.
Earlier, Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia said defence allocation this year was at the lowest level since the 1962 war with China and criticised the reduction in capital expenditure for the three forces, adding that the much hyped ‘achhe din’ (good days) continued to elude soldiers.
Scindia said defence allocation had been increased to 2.5 per cent of GDP during the UPA government but had now been reduced to 1.5 per cent, which is the “lowest” since 1962.
The allocation for capital expenditure was only Rs. 86,000 crore and 90 per cent of this will go to service the existing contractual liability, Scindia added.
“Our Army is not getting new weapons. The budget for them is not adequate and still all of it is not being spent. Rs. 7,000 crore of the capital expenditure has been returned and Rs. 13,000 crore was returned in the preceding year…,” he said, flaying the government for not having a proper defence policy in place.