New Delhi, April 9: The chiefs of the army, navy and the air force have been summoned by a panel of parliamentarians for a briefing on the state of the defence forces.
The parliamentary standing committee on defence has asked for the assessments after a letter from army chief Gen. V.K. Singh to the Prime Minister was leaked last month.
Gen. V.K. Singh had pointed out crucial shortages in war reserves and had urged the Prime Minister to take steps to fill the gaps through urgent acquisitions. Gen. V.K. Singh had said the army’s tanks were practically night-blind and did not have enough ammunition.
Admiral Nirmal Verma, the chief of naval staff and chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, Gen. V.K. Singh and Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne will appear before the committee on April 20.
Defence minister A.K. Antony is also in the middle of a series of review meetings with the service chiefs that began in December. A third meeting with the army chief on the urgent needs of his forces is likely next week.
Defence secretary Shashi Kant Sharma today briefed the committee. Sharma again said The Indian Express report on unauthorised and aggressive movements by the army on the night of January 16-17 this year was wrongly presented.
The House panel has also questioned the chairman and managing director of defence public sector Bharat Earth Movers Ltd (BEML), which is being investigated by the CBI over deals to supply Tatra trucks to the army.
Gen. V.K. Singh has alleged that a retired officer, Lt Gen. Tejinder Singh, had offered him a bribe of Rs 14 crore to clear a tranche of the Czech-origin Tatra trucks supplied by BEML.
But BEML chief V.R.S. Natarajan has alleged that Gen. V.K. Singh was wrong in saying that the Tatra trucks were overpriced and not up to the mark.
Last week, the Defence Acquisitions Council, chaired by minister Antony, cleared a 15-year Long Term Integrated Perspective Plan (LTIPP) that is a shopping list of weapons and ammunition of the armed forces.
In its annual report released today, the ministry said India’s threat scenarios had remain unchanged in the past few years. Terrorism, an unstable Pakistan and China’s military expansion were being viewed with concern.
The section on China in the report released today reads almost exactly the same from last year’s dossier. “India remains conscious and watchful of the implications of China’s military profile in the immediate and extended neighbourhood,” the report for 2011-12 said.
Last month, China announced a $106-million defence budget, substantially more than twice the amount that India has budgeted for 2012-13 ($40 million).
“Although the unresolved boundary dispute has been a factor, India has a strategic and co-operative partnership with China in which the effort has been to work on areas of mutual interest which would enable both countries to pursue common goals of growth and development,” the report said.