'MoD should Spend Funds More Wisely'
Faced with an embarrassing query from a Congress student wing member on the INS Sindhuratna mishap in which her brother lost his life, Finance Minister P.Chidambaram on Thursday said the Defence Ministry had been unable to wisely utilise funds allocated by his ministry for maintenance of its fleet and military assets.
While addressing the NSUI ‘Udaan’ meet at Talkotra Stadium here, Chidambaram was stumped by a pointed query from the sister of Lt Commander Kapish Muwai, who died in the mishap: “Why is the government not sanctioning money for security and safety because of which casualties are taking place,” she asked the FM. Taken aback, Chidambaram first profusely apologised but then went on to make a critical comment which could be seen as a reflection on the judgement calls of the armed forces and his party colleague and Defence Minister A.K.Antony’s leadership ability. Turning around the charge aganist the Finance Ministry, Chidambaram said: “At some point of time, the maintenance of the submarine appears to have been neglected.
Only an inquiry will prove the fact, but from the reports I have read, it appears to have been neglected. There seemed to be some problem with the batteries that led to the fire and precious lives were lost.’’ Also rebutting the view that adequate funds were not released for the armed forces, the FM said: “As far as defence expenditure is concerned, I think it is not correct to say that enough money is not being provided. There is no such thing as enough’’ funds.
There was little doubt though that he was on a sticky wicket. The FM actually reeled out statistics to prop up his claims that a “lot of money’’ for defence has been “provided’’. Chidambaram, in fact, went on to raise several uncomfortable questions on fund utilisation: “We do our very best to allocate as much as we can: ` 2.25 lakh core was allotted to defence.