Funds to address critical shortfalls in Navy will be provided: Nirmala Sitharaman
Taking note of the critical capability shortfalls of the Indian Navy in helicopters, aircraft and submarines, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today assured the force that adequate funds will be provided to mitigate the critical shortfalls, the defence ministry said.
Sitharaman also assured naval commanders that the defence ministry is focussing on these issues and is implementing measures to mitigate the problems. The development came to light during her inauguration of the first edition of the bi-annual Naval Commanders’ Conference, which began on Tuesday and is scheduled to end on May 11.
“Taking note of the critical capability shortfalls that the Navy is facing today in ship-borne multi-role helicopters, reconnaissance aircraft, unmanned platforms, conventional submarines and surface ships, which need urgent redressal to maintain the combat edge of the Navy, she assured the Commanders that these issues are being given due impetus at the MoD and measures are being put in place to mitigate these shortcomings at the earliest,” says a statement issued by the ministry.
Sitharaman also took cognisance of the importance of long term funding for the navy’s sustained growth. “She also gave assurance that adequate funds would be provided to mitigate critical shortfalls,” said the ministry.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence in one of its reports recently tabled in Parliament had observed that the percentage share of the capital segment of the naval budget to the total defence budget has declined from 12.81 per cent in 2012-13 to 7.46 per cent in 2017-18. The committee pointed out that this may lead to delay in induction of critical capabilities. “A budget deficit by nearly 40 per cent will indeed have a cascading impact on the operational preparedness and technological upgradation of the Navy,” the committee noted.
Meanwhile, the minister also stressed on indigenisation during her address to the commanders. “I am happy to note that shipbuilding projects worth over Rs 32,000 crore have been tendered and are progressing towards contract conclusion. Projects worth Rs 760 crore for construction of yard crafts are also being targeted for early conclusion through private and small shipyards, to bolster the ‘Make in India’ initiative and provide the necessary impetus to the Indian Shipbuilding Industry,” she said according to the statement.
“With other shipbuilding projects covering a vast spectrum of weapon intensive platforms, Mine Counter Measure Vessels (MCMVs), Fleet Support Ships and Diving Support Vessels on the anvil, I am sure our Indigenous Shipbuilding Industry would rise to the occasion and keep pace with the Indian Navy’s planned modernisation program,” she added.
Focussing on the need to be self-reliant, she also spoke of the navy’s role in engaging with a range of R&D and production agencies. “Towards this endeavour, the Combat Management System for the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier being developed with a private vendor (Tata Power) is a big step towards Strategic partnership between the MoD and Industry,” Sitharaman said.
Programme ‘Samudrika’, which will result in achieving 100 per cent indigenisation of the Electronic Warfare fit onboard Indian Naval Platforms, is also reflective of Indian Navy’s continued efforts towards indigenisation, she said.