NEW DELHI: After discontinuing free rations for army officers, the Narendra Modi-led government has now banned military farms, which were part and parcel of cantonment life for over a century. The government’s decision to ban 39 farms of the Indian Army came after repeated complaints of corruption in the system.The government believes that the military farms—which rear around 23,600 livestock with an annual production of over 335 lakh kg of milk, vegetables, fodder and fertilisers under an annual budget of over `400 crore—are no longer needed due to widespread availability of milk, vegetables and other products in the open civilian market. Moreover, there were corruption allegations against officers involved with the farms, and some were court-martialled.
“Cabinet Committee on Security has decided for closure of 39 military farms within a period of three months,’’ the government order stated.“With rapid growth of urbanisation, cantonments are no longer isolated and everything is available in the open market,” said an officer.Conceived by the British in 1889, the farms are spread over 20,126 acres in cities like Ahmednagar, Gwalior, Jabalpur, Secunderabad, Mhow, Jhansi, Dimapur, Guwahati, Jorhat, Panagarh, Kolkata, Ambala, Jalandhar, Agra, Pathankot, Allahabad, Lucknow, Meerut, Kanpur, Ranikhet, Jammu, Srinagar, Kargil and Udhampur, among others.
After the decision, nearly 2,000 Army personnel of the farms, including over 20 officers, will be transferred.Last month, the government had done away with the British-era rule of distributing free ration to its officers following allegations of corruption in food supply.The Seventh Pay Commission has decided that officers posted in peace locations will not get ration. Instead, a ration allowance of `96 per day will be given to them as part of their salary. The decision has created a lot of resentment.