The country’s 13.3 lakh-strong Army, which is the world’s second largest standing Army next only to the Chinese PLA, may face mobility issues in the coming days following a reported move by the Centre to effect a 40 per cent cut in the fuel, oil and lubricants -- called FOL in defence parlance -- supplies to the Armed Forces.
Military sources attributed it to an audit recommendation, which also resulted in lower allocation in the 2013-14 Defence Budget.
In fact,the Army relies on oil marketing companies (OMC) like the Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum for its fuel, oil and lubricant supplies, besides the Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) for its aircraft.
“The cut in the fuel, oil and lubricants, is estimated to be around 40 per cent this year,” an Army officer told Express.
“This could only mean that there will less movement of the convoys and lesser training sessions for the troopers, considering that the nearly 30,000 light vehicles such as jeeps and cars, 10,000 trucks, 4,200 armoured tanks, 1,900 infantry combat vehicles and the 6,600 artillery gun vehicles depend on FOL for their mobility,” the officer, posted at the Army headquarters (HQ), pointed out.
His concern in this regard was confirmed by the Army officers posted on the ground.
The Army receives the FOL supplies from the OMCs at over 100 locations across the country, while the IAF and the Navy get it from the 50-odd and 10-odd locations respectively.
And the Armed Forces’ FOL requirements include petrol, diesel, LPG, superior kerosene oil and other lubricants.
The Union Ministry of Defence (MoD) pays the full market price to the OMCs for the supplies as they are not provided with any subsidies unlike the civilian sector.
Meanwhile, this year’s Budgetary estimates for FOL clearly show the impact of the cuts that have been effected.
The Army’s revised Budgetary estimates for 2012-13 for petrol alone was Rs 193 crore, but it has been allocated only Rs 160crore for 2013-14, which means a slash of nearly Rs 33 crore.
Similarly, the Army’s revised Budget last year for diesel was Rs 755crore, but this year’s Budgetary allocation came to only Rs 730crore, again a cut of Rs 25crore.
While the total revised estimates for FOL last year was Rs 1,775crore, the Army got only `1,738 crore for 2013-14. In comparison, the 90,000-strong Navy’s Budgetary allocation this year towards FOL is slightly better than the Army’s.