NEW DELHI: In an unprecedented move, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence headed by Congress MP, Satpal Maharaj, has summoned the three service chiefs of the Indian armed forces — Admiral Nirmal Verma, General V K Singh and Air Chief Marshall N A K Browne — to appear before it. This is in view of reports that the ‘delayed procurement’ process is affecting the country’s defence preparedness.
Confirming this, a member of the Standing Committee said, “We’ve taken a serious note that the delayed procurement of basic hardware, guns and ammunitions, could be having a debilitating affect on our defence preparedness. We’ve decide to verify the actual situation as it were.’’
The service chiefs are expected to appear before the parliamentary panel on April 20. This comes in the backdrop of a series of media leaks, including one on the contents of a ‘top secret’ letter.
In the letter that the Army Chief, V K Singh, wrote to the Prime Minister, he raised doubts about India’s readiness to face any war. He, primarily, flagged concerns about obsolete equipment that was making the army less than fighting fit.
The Army Vice-chief, S K Singh, told the parliamentary panel last week that in the event of a war the hold-over ammunition to take on the enemy side, which is expected to last for at least 40 days, would be exhausted in 20 days, under the current circumstances. “This has really disturbed many of the members who want a concrete verifiable assurance from the service chiefs on the steps are being taken to overcome the deficit — if any.’’ The government, on its part, assured Parliament that steps are being taken to streamline the situation, and for starters, more power is delegated to the Army to enable it to take a few financial decisions.
The parliamentary panel on Monday also quizzed Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma and Army Vice-chief S K Singh on the issue of “unusual’’ troop movements in the vicinity of the national capital on January 16 night.
Sources said that Sharma told the panel that the army had neither violated any standard operating procedure nor was there the need for prior notice to the government to carry out such an exercise.