Government has accepted and implemented important recommendations of Committee of Experts (CoE) formed by Ministry of Defence under the Chairmanship of Lt General D B Shekatkar (Retd) relating to Border Infrastructure. These were related to various issued i.e speeding up road construction, leading to socio economic development in the border areas. Some of the key points of the Shekatkar Committee are as follows. Such many other committe have been formed to determine the positivve modification to keep our forces more strengthen.
• India ought to have a defence Budget range which is at least Two and half to three percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This is in mild of possible future threats.
• A Joint Services War College need to be formed for the training of mid-stage officers of the Indian military.
• The Military Intelligence School at Pune should be converted into a tri-service intelligence education establishment.
• The standards for the recruitment of drivers and clerical staff within the Army need to be increased.
• The file additionally emphasises on optimisation of the Signal establishments to include corps air support signal regiments, radio monitoring companies, composite signal regiments, air formation signal regiments, and merger of corps operating and engineering signal regiments
• Some recommendations of the committee that are already being implemented include optimisation of signals establishments, restructuring of repair echelons, redeployment of Ordnance echelons, better use of transportation and supply echelons and animal transport units, closing down of military farms & Army postal establishments in peace locations, improvement in standards for recruiting drivers and clerical staff in the Army, increasing the efficiency of the NCC (National Cadet Corps).
• The Army has started imposing the Government Owned Contractor Operated (GOCO) model for its base workshops and ordnance depots, aiming to improve operational efficiency.
On the matter related to creating border infrastructure, the Government has implemented recommendation of CoE to outsource road construction work beyond optimal capacity of Border Roads Organisation (BRO). The other recommendation relating to introduction of modern construction plants, equipment and machinery has been implemented by delegating enhanced procurement powers from Rs 7.5 crore to Rs 100 crore to BRO, for domestic and foreign procurements.
New Technology like blasting technology for precision blasting, use of Geo-Textiles for soil stabilisation, cementitious base for pavements, plastic coated aggregates for surfacing, is also being used to enhance the pace of construction. With the empowerment of field officers through enhanced delegation of financial and administrative powers, there has been significant improvement in faster financial closure of works.
The land acquisition and all statutory clearances like forest and environmental clearance are also made part of approval of Detailed Project Report (DPR). Further, with the adoption of EPC mode of execution, it is mandatory to award work only when 90 per cent of the statutory clearances have been obtained, implementing the recommendation of CoE regarding obtaining prior clearances before the commencement of the project.
Major Recommendations of Shekatkar Committee (Sector wise)
Allocation of Defence Budget Allocation
The committee has recommended that the defence budget should be in the range of 2.5 and 3% of the GDP.
· This would however require a substantial change in approach and outlook of the Govt towards the armed forces.
For the last 5 years for instance, defence budget has remained around 2% of the GDP.
Review the definition of ‘Capital’ and ‘Revenue’ budget heads
One of the major recommendations of the committee is to review the definition of ‘Capital’ and ‘Revenue’ budget heads in the funds allocated to the 3 Armed Forces, particularly the Indian Army.
- The panel notes that the Indian Army—unlike the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force—will have to remain a manpower-intensive force because of its major deployment in the mountains against both its main adversaries, China and Pakistan.
- As a result the sustenance budget of the Indian Army will be higher than the other 2 services leaving very little money for capital acquisition.
- The panel has reportedly therefore recommended that a ‘roll on’ plan for fresh acquisitions be introduced so as to overcome the practice of ‘surrendering’ funds at the end of every F Y.
Review of the financial management system of the MoD
The panel has also suggested a review of the financial management system of the MoD in which the defence finance wing is seen to be more of an impediment in clearing projects
- The committee has recommended that the financial powers of all the 3 chiefs and vice chiefs be enhanced further to quicken the pace of acquisitions.
Performance audit of non-combat organizations
- As for redeployment and rationalising of manpower, the Shekatkar Committee has recommended that the role of non-combat organisations paid for and sustained by the defence budget be subjected to a performance audit.
- Some of these organisations mentioned in the report are Defence Estates, Defence Accounts, DGQA, Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), DRDO, and the National Cadet Corps (NCC).
- Once a professional and objective review is carried out, the committee said, substantial savings can be achieved by downsizing or rationalizing the manpower in these organizations.
Establishment of a Joint Services War College
- The committee has also suggested the establishment of a Joint Services War College for training for middle level officers (the higher command course for instance)
- The 3 separate War Colleges—currently at Mhow, Secunderabad and Goa—for Army, Air Force and Navy could continue to train younger officers for their respective service.
Tri-service Intelligence training establishment
- Similarly it has recommended that the Military Intelligence School at Pune be converted to a tri-service Intelligence training establishment.
Better coordination between the MoD and state governments on renewing lease of land for crucial firing ranges
- Another aspect highlighted by the committee is the increasing reluctance on part of the state governments to renew lease of land for crucial firing ranges for the troops.
- Increasing urbanization and pressure on land has meant that the armed forces have to battle political and bureaucratic pressure to retain the existing firing ranges.
- The panel has therefore suggested better coordination between the MoD and state governments to overcome this problem.
Ramp up the quantum of training on various simulators
- The Committee has also suggested that the armed forces ramp up the quantum of training on various simulators.
- The new recruits can do about 60 per cent of their firing training on simulators, resulting in substantial savings to the tune of Rs 20-25 crore per annum in expenditure of training ammunition, the committee has suggested.
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