We're bridging gaps in armed forces capabilities: Pallam Raju
New Delhi, March 28 (IANS) There are gaps in the capabilities of armed forces and efforts are on to bridge these quickly, Minister of State for Defence Pallam Raju said Wednesday following reports of army chief General V.K. Singh writing to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about the shortage of weapons and ammunition.
Reacting to V.K. Singh's letter, Raju said the defence ministry has utilised the entire budget allocated to it in the last three years.
'In the last three years we have utilised the entire capital budget and there was no surrender of budget. Nevertheless, there are gaps in capabilities which we are trying to bridge as quickly as possible,' Raju told reporters.
The army chief March 12 wrote to the prime minister, stating the country's security might be at risk owing to the fact that tanks are running out of ammunition, air defence is going obsolete and the infantry is operating without critical weapons. He appealed for suitable directions to enhance the preparedness of the army.
'We are fine-tuning the procurement process and speeding up the process and I think the government also has been very responsive to the needs of the capabilities of armed forces and we will see greater progress in the times to come,' Raju said.
'We have been framing new rules and policy to minimise all these things (irregularities in procurement) and in case of purchases over Rs.100 crore, we have asked vendors to sign an integrity pact,' he said.
'We are changing policy wherever possible to such things because every time any irregularity is pointed out and a cancellation happens it results in us buying the same equipment at much bigger price in a point later in time, which also affects our preparedness,' he added.
V.K. Singh had Monday disclosed that he was offered a kickback of Rs.14 crore in his office by a retired defence officer, sending shockwaves through the defence establishment.
He contended that he had informed Defence Minister A.K. Antony immediately about the conversation. The defence minister has ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry in the matter.
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