CHANDIGARH: The Congress Thursday objected to the Union Government's proposed plan of shifting the Army Training Command (ARTRAC) from Shimla in Himachal Pradesh to Meerut in Uttar Pradesh.
Urging Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to cancel the plan, Congress MP Anand Sharma said that it would also adversely affect the economy of Shimla and the hill state. In his letter written on Wednesday, he stated, "There will be huge financial implications for relocating of these big institutions from Shimla to Meerut which will have a negative effect on exchequer amounting to hundreds of crores and will not serve any purpose.’’
He further wrote that shortage of accommodation after the merger of the Directorate General Military Training (DGMT) and ARTRAC was the logic behind the proposed shifting. In fact, adequate infrastructure is available in the adjoining Jutogh cantonment.
"After India's Independence, the headquarters of the Western Command was located in Shimla during the India-Pakistan wars in 1948, 1965 and 1971, as well as the India-China war of 1962. The Western Command was shifted to Chandimandir only in 1985. Ever since its establishment in 1993, the Defence Ministry has over 27 years allocated a large amount of money and resources for ARTRAC,’’ he wrote.
Sharma sought Rajnath’s intervention in view of the opinion of senior army officers, including retired Service chiefs and strategic experts.
Shimla has been a strategic location of the Indian Army for almost 150 years and was the headquarters of the then Indian Army during the British period from 1864 to 1939, which included two World Wars in which the British Indian Army fought.
Earlier, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on February 14 this year had stated that he opposed the reported move to shift ARTRAC and will raise the issue with the Union Government. "The state government will make every effort to ensure that the ARTRAC is not shifted out of Shimla. We will raise the matter strongly with the Centre," he had said.