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Friday, 23 May 2008

From Today's Papers - 23 May

Nod to 67,000 houses for defence staff
Rs 9,396 cr for married accommodation project
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 22
In a bid to alleviate the working conditions of the armed forces personnel, the union cabinet today approved the construction of nearly 67,000 dwelling units at an estimated cost of Rs 9,396 crore under the phase II of the married accommodation project.

The defence ministry said here that over 58,000 units would be for the Army, 5,238 for the IAF and 3,107 units for the Navy. The construction of the accommodation would be completed by March 31, 2012, that by the end of the ongoing XI plan.

“Today’s decision will help the ministry of defence to achieve its planned objective of providing married accommodation to defence services personnel within the targeted time. The project will provide a major boost to a large number of jawans and officers by enabling them to stay with their families in many locations, reducing the stress level as has been pointed out in several studies carried out by various agencies.”

Under phase one, 10,637 dwelling units have already been completed.

Out of 86 stations, 100 per cent work has been completed at 17 stations. Nearly Rs 3,465 crore has been spent on the project so far.

Naval officer held for murder of TV executive
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, May 22
The Mumbai Police today arrested M.L. Jerome (25), a lieutenant in the Navy, from the Cochin base and brought him to Mumbai in connection with the murder of a television executive last week.

The police said Jerome stabbed Neeraj Grover (25), creative head of television production house Synergy Adlabs, at the suburban residence of television actress Maria Monica Susairaj (27), before chopping his body into little pieces. The chopped body parts of Grover were then taken to a forest on the outskirts of Mumbai and burnt with petrol.

The police said Jerome was arrested by the naval police yesterday itself shortly after Susairaj confessed to the murder and brutal hacking of the victim’s remains.

According to the police, Maria and Jerome were childhood sweethearts before

the former took up an acting career. In Mumbai to seek work, Maria came into contact with the victim while they were working together in a television serial, it said.

On the fateful day earlier this month, Grover was to spend the night at Maria’s residence when Jerome telephoned her from the naval base in Cochin. On hearing Grover’s voice in the background, Jerome grew suspicious and decided to leave for Mumbai immediately by a night flight. On arriving at Maria’s residence, Jerome spotted Grover and flew into a rage. After an argument, Jerome stabbed Grover to death with a kitchen knife.

Maria and Jerome then decided to dispose of Grover’s body. The police says it took the couple more than nine hours to chop the body into little pieces, pack it into two bags and transport the remains to Manor, a forest area in Mumbai’s outskirts, where the bags were burnt. In between Maria went shopping at a suburban mall for curtains and bedsheets to wrap the remains in, the police said.

After disposing of the remains, she then filed a missing person complaint saying Grover left her residence immediately after arriving and was not traceable.

The police, however, questioned Maria thoroughly as she was the last person to meet with Grover. After sustained questioning, she confessed to the crime on Tuesday night a week after the murder, the police said.

According to police officials, the key evidence provided by the watchman of the building Maria lived in proved to be her undoing. He told the police that he had seen Jerome and Monica leave together with heavy bags in a car. The police said it had recovered the half-burnt remains of Grover’s body from the spot where they were dumped. The victim’s parents identified the remains from the silver chain and clothes worn by him, the police said.

118 medical posts upgraded to select ranks
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 22
The union government today decided to upgrade 118 posts of the Armed Forces Medical Services to select ranks. As many as 118 posts will be upgraded at the level of Lieutenant-General, Major-General, Brigadier and Colonel and the same was decided in the Union Cabinet which approved the Defence Ministry proposal to restructure the posts in select ranks of the armed forces medical services.

While 100 posts will be in the armed forces medical corps, 16 will be in the armed forces dental corps and two in the armed forces medical corps (non-technical). The ratio between permanent and short-service commission will be altered from the present 77:23 to 60:40.

This is expected to bring considerable relief and satisfaction to the armed forces medical services.

Out of the total 117 posts, these include three at Lt-Gen and equivalent rank, 15 of Maj-Gen and equivalent rank, 82 of Brigadier and equivalent rank. 16 posts in ADC will be upgraded. These include three at Major-Gen and equivalent, nine of Brigadier and equivalent and four for Colonel and equivalent rank. One post of AMC (NT) will be upgraded to Brigadier and equivalent rank.

The decision also comes in the wake of significant changes in the role and functioning of the AFMS on account of increase in the total clientele, rapid modernisation of medical technology, growth of a large number of super speciality disciplines, automation and extensive use of information technology, preparedness for nuclear biological and chemical disasters, deployment to foreign countries etc.

President Interacts with Soldiers on LOC

Soldiers posted on the Line of Control (LoC) that divides Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan got a pat on the back Friday from President Pratibha Patil who also visited a bunker for a firsthand look at their living conditions.

Patil, who arrived here Friday morning for a four-day visit to the Kashmir Valley, visited an Indian Army post at 9,600 ft on the LoC in Tangdhar sector.

The supreme commander of the armed forces patted the soldiers guarding the country's borders. After visiting a bunker, the president also assured the troops of better facilities.

She was shown the arms and ammunition recovered from guerrillas in the sector.

"The country is proud of all of you. We are fully aware of the extremely difficult conditions under which you discharge your duties. I am sure the country's borders are safe in your hands," she later told officers and soldiers at the brigade headquarters of the army's 19th infantry division in Baramula town, 56 km from here.

The president also joined officers and soldiers at a ceremonial lunch.

Patil, who landed here at 10.20 a.m., was received by Governor Lt Gen (retd) S.K. Sinha, Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, cabinet ministers and senior civil and military officials.

She is accompanied by union Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz, Defence Secretary Vijay Singh and army chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor.

The president will deliver the convocation address of the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences in the evening at the International Convention Complex situated on the banks of the Dal Lake.

Indian Army Successfully Test Fires
Prithvi Missile

Balasore (Orissa)
The Indian Army Friday successfully test fired a surface-to-surface nuclear-capable Prithvi missile, achieving "close to zero circular error probability (CEP) accuracy", an official said.

The missile, which has a range of 350 km, was launched from the Interim Test Range at Chandipur in Balasore district off the Orissa coast at 10.26 a.m., the official said.

Prithvi has already been inducted into the army and Friday's launch was carried out as part of army training.

"Taken from a routine production lot, the missile was launched with an improved aided inertial navigation system and achieved single digit accuracy reaching close to zero CEP," a defence ministry statement issued in New Delhi said.

Prithvi is India's first indigenously built ballistic missile. One of five missiles being developed under India's Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme, Prithvi is capable of carrying a payload of between 500 kg and one tonne, including nuclear weapons.

Scientists of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) that designed Prithvi have also developed its anti-ballistic missile version that was successfully test fired late last year.

The ABM version will enable India put in place a missile defence shield comparable to the US Patriot anti-missile system that is considered to be the best in the world, DRDO scientists had said after the test.

Top army officials and DRDO scientists witnessed Thursday's launch. V.K. Saraswat, DRDO's chief controller for R&D oversaw all the operations of the launch. Interim Test Range director SP Dash, project director D.S. Reddy, and other scientists were also present.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony congratulated all the scientists of DRDO on the successful launch of Prithvi. M. Natarajan, scientific advisor to the defence minister, also congratulated the scientists "and wished them many more glorious achievements", the defence ministry statement said.

2,700 more posts for defence forces
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 22
In an apparent move to placate the armed forces in view of the insufficient financial benefits of the Sixth Pay Commission, the Ministry of Defence has now agreed to have about 2,700 additional posts distributed at the top-level across the three services.

A proposal will be placed before the Union Cabinet in the coming few days, where it is expected to sail through. The increase in posts has come about after the chiefs of the three services arrived at a consensus on the ratio of distributing the posts across their respective services.

The A.V. Singh Committee on Defence in its second part of its recommendations had suggested that the number of posts be increased for operational reasons.

The other major recommendation in the second part of the committee report is to increase the ratio of the short service commissioned (SSC) officers and make it 60:40 favouring the SSC.

At present it is 60:40 favouring the regular commissioned officers. This will also form a part of the Cabinet note, when prepared, said sources while adding that the addition of more SSC officers had not been opposed by anyone.

The first part of the A.V. Singh Committee has already been implemented some two years back. Under this, an officer joining as a Lieutenant, and serves the full term, has now been assured of promotion till the rank of Lieut Col. Earlier, promotions till the rank of Major were assured. After today’s development it will open up promotion avenues in the forces. This is aimed at increasing the operational ability as the sphere of duties of the forces has increased in the past few years.

This is the first addition of posts in the forces in the past 20 years. The last such increase took place some time in 1988. Since then, The Rashtriya Rifles has been raised, the integrated defence staff and several other electronic warfare units have come up all the while the number of posts remained the same.

In the forces this is being seen as “a widening of the top of the pyramid structure of the forces”. At present, the rank of a Colonel is often seen as the last rank for a vast majority of officers. From the post of Colonel and upwards the rise is very tough as more and more people are competing for the next rank, while the number of posts decreases drastically.

The increase in posts will be in the rank of Colonel and above and also the corresponding ranks of the Indian Air Force and the Navy.

The existing posts will be upgraded meaning thereby the work being handled by a Colonel will be done by Brigadier, explained sources.

Sources said the minister for defence, A.K. Antony, has had a series of meetings with the three service chiefs and a formula to distribute the posts among the three services has been arrived at.

The consensus had to be arrived at as the IAF and the Navy demanded more posts citing operational reasons. The Army was suggesting that the distribution of posts should be based on the existing proportion of officers.

The tentative suggested increase in the Army is: Lieut-Gen — 20 more posts (existing 68); Major-General — 75 more (existing 199); Brigadier — 222 more (existing 824) and Colonel 1,484 (existing 3389).

IAF: Air Marshal — 70 more (existing 22), Air Vice-Marshal — 32 more (existing 47), Air Commodore — 158 more (existing 131) and group Captain — 592 more (existing 476).

Navy: Vice-Admiral — 7 more (existing 15); Rear Admiral — 10 more (existing 43) and Commodores and Captain — 49 more (existing 418).

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