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Thursday, 6 December 2012

From Today's Papers - 06 Dec 2012

MI goes door-to-door to get information on journalists
ISLAMABAD: The Military Intelligence (MI) has initiated a country wide exercise, where they are knocking at the doors of journalists and columnists seeking help in providing them details about themselves in a two-page form in Urdu, for what they say is a verification process. The News saw the names of nearly a hundred well known media personalities, including women journalists who live on their own and even included one columnist who is a sitting member of Parliament.
Selected journalists and columnists stationed in Rawalpindi come under 10 Corps, say MI officials and a two-member team is assigned to gather personal details from these journalists, including four journalists presently working with The News.
This correspondent was approached by two polite officials on Tuesday, who identified themselves from the MI and said that they had visited several times before, but were told that the correspondent was away. They also had a wrong house address, which had complicated matters as they were turned away each time they visited the place. The address was corrected by this correspondent when they failed to see it written clearly on the gate. They were even having difficulty in locating telephone numbers and houseaddress of one journalist they had to investigate and wondered if I could help.

The MI, according to Wikipedia, is “tasked with operations, identifying and eliminating sleeper cells, foreign agents and other anti-Pakistani elements within Pakistan”, so it is mind-boggling which category the media comes under. The MI is currently headed by a two-star general, Major-General Naushad Ahmed Kayani, nominated by the COAS himself.
After reading dozens of questions which had to be answered, this correspondent wrote at the end of the questionnaire, in space provided for remarks, “ As a working journalist, the Constitution and the laws of the land do not oblige me to provide the Military Intelligence with such personal and intimate information”.

Though the questionnaire was presented under the garb of ensuring ‘security clearance’ for events hosted by the Pakistan military, it was clear that it was much, much more than that.
“I do not think the DG MI has even read this questionnaire, which is certainly not a very professional one. But if I were in his place I would certainly take responsibility for this ridiculous procedure. I am certainly not very happy and there are much better ways to acquire information, as I can understand the security concerns that have to be taken care of but certainly not from people like you,” General Asad Durrani, former DG MI and ISI told The News.

 It is indeed shocking at the details that the MI is interested in. Apart from the journalist’s name, father’s name, CNIC number and other details easily available from Nadra, it was also obligatory to specify one’s religion and whether one was a Sunni or Shia. If you wished to put Islam in the desired column it was not enough. Details were needed whether one had any strong affiliation with any religious group and if one had been involved in any illegal activity.

When The News contacted columnist Ayaz Amir whose name was also included in the list and asked whether his privilege as a parliamentarian would be breached if they approached him with this questionnaire, he replied, “It is my privilege as a journalist which will be breached. If the MI still does not have details of the Diplomatic Correspondent of The News who has been in the profession for 32 years, it simply exposes their inefficiency. And anyway it is none of their business to be asking such personal information”.
The questionnaire, amongst other things, wanted details of spouse, children and their contacts and activities. Contacts and details of brothers but sisters were not needed. The MI also wants to know which foreigners were the journalists meeting and what kind of information exchanged.
Details of cars owned and their details, bank account numbers and their details, tax return number, passport details, the list is endless. If it had been in English maybe more questions could have been easily read. But the ones the official started reading angered me enough, to request him to stop as the questions were becoming more and more ridiculous.
Amount of funding and time spent by the MI to complete this nationwide exercise is again a waste of taxpayers’ money.
When DG ISPR was contacted as they respond to matters pertaining to MI and ISI, Major General Asim Saleem Bajwa, speaking to The News from Quetta said, “I will certainly look into this matter as these kind of questions and seeking such information from working journalists is unnecessary”.
 According to Wikipedia, the MI directorate is composed of Air Intelligence (AI) of Air Force, Naval Intelligence (Navy), Army Intelligence (Pakistan Army), and the Directorate for Marine Intelligence of the Marines. However, the MI is part of the Army and reports directly to the chief of army staff. And, the Army has appointed its officers to lead the agency. Pakistan’s Military Intelligence (MI) is one of the three main intelligence services in Pakistan.
India faces Afghan test as ally calls for military aid
Afghan military commanders and intelligence officials have begun urging India to provide direct military assistance to the country’s fledgling armed forces following a series of skirmishes with Pakistani troops this autumn, highly placed government sources in Kabul told The Hindu .

Key equipment sought by the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), the sources said, include medium trucks that can carry 2.5-7 tonne cargos, bridge-laying equipment and engineering facilities. India was also asked to consider the possibility of supplying light mountain artillery, along with ordnance, and to help Afghanistan build close air-support capabilities for its troops in preparation of drastic scaling-down of western forces in 2014.

The requests followed fierce fighting along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border that raged from July to September, in which both sides used artillery — and comes amidst fears that Afghanistan may be unable to hold together in the face of renewed jihadist assault in the run-up to the country’s Presidential election.

India’s Afghan test

For India, the Afghan military demands present a strategic dilemma, as well as the first real test of the Strategic Partnership Agreement signed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Hamid Karzai on October 4. The accord, Afghanistan’s first with any country, opened up the prospect of significantly expanding military cooperation far beyond training the country’s military and police personnel, India’s main contribution so far.

“India agrees to assist as mutually determined,” clause 5 of the section on political and security cooperation reads, “in the training, equipping and capacity building programmes for the ANSF.”

Now estimated at 3,52,000-strong, the ANSF cost over $4 billion to support—far beyond the government’s resources. Participants at the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s summit in Chicago this May agreed to continue to foot the Bill until 2017, but also sought “gradual, managed force reduction” to about 2,28,500. Kabul fears the social consequences of putting over 1,00,000 trained soldiers out of jobs, and worries that recession in the West could lead to a further scaling back of support.

Nor is there clarity on the precise nature of how many troops the United States will maintain after 2014, though its government has said some numbers of personnel will remain. Vanda Felbab-Brown, an expert at the Washington, DC-based Brookings Institution, recently warned that “if the definition of [the post-2014] United States mission then is only very narrow counter-terrorism for its own contingents and on-base counter-insurgency training for the ANSF, the United States may be severely constrained in providing crucial and necessary resources to the ANSF.”

Strategic dilemma

India, diplomatic sources in New Delhi said, however fears being sucked into a military relationship with Afghanistan that could enrage Pakistan — a country which has long worried that its northern neighbour could be used as a base for aggression by its historic eastern adversary. Islamabad has, in the past, alleged that India’s intelligence services are using Afghanistan to back secessionists in Balochistan, as well as jihadists fighting the Pakistani state.

“Frankly,” said Sushant Sareen, an expert at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses in New Delhi, “I think its worth New Delhi’s while to take the risk. Pakistan says it is happy for Afghans to decide their own future. It is time to put that claim to the test.”

President Karzai’s administration is engaged in a last-ditch effort to secure Pakistani support for the 2014 transition, by seeking its support for negotiations with Taliban leaders based in Peshawar and Quetta. Mr. Karzai has even offered Pakistan a strategic partnership agreement, like that signed with India. However, Afghan government sources said, the military leadership believe Indian assistance will be critical if these efforts fail — and snowballing violence within the country leads to future skirmishes along their border with Pakistan.

Fighting along the Durand Line — the 2,640 km frontier drawn by British administrator Mortimer Durand of British India and Afghan Amir Abdur Rahman Khan in 1893, but never ratified by Kabul — has erupted periodically since 9/11.

In the summer of 2003, the Afghan government claimed Pakistan established bases up to 600 metres inside its territory, along the Yaqubi Kandao pass. Even though the skirmishes that broke out were local, they set a pattern. In 2007, clashes broke out again when the Pakistan army sought to erect fences inside Afghan territory in the Angoor Adda area, along the border with South Waziristan. Like this autumn, both sides exchanged artillery fire.

The latest clashes, Afghan army sources told The Hindu , were sparked off by a succession of attacks by jihadist groups operating in the Kunar area, including the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which are alleged to have the backing of local Pakistan army units.
N-submarine set for sea trials, says Navy Chief
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 5
India’s under construction indigenous nuclear submarine INS Arihant is set to go out for sea trials any time soon. The submarine is the first of a series of three ballistic missile-carrying submarines that India proposes to build.

On the status of the submarine, Indian Navy Chief Admiral DK Joshi yesterday said: “We expect to have good news for the nation very soon.”

The harbour acceptance trials of the submarine are satisfactorily over. “A vast majority of our harbour acceptance trials are over and once that has happened, trials at sea will begin,” the Navy Chief said. The Navy expects to complete the trials within a year. India has already announced that the nuclear-powered submarine will be used for “deterrent patrol” aimed at providing the ability of a retaliatory “second strike” in case of a nuclear attack.

The submarine, when on patrol, will carry its full load of nuclear-tipped missiles that can be launched from under the sea and hit targets hundreds of miles away.

Arihant was launched in July 2009 at Viskahapatnam. Two types of N-tipped missiles are being developed for Arihant. The first is a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), K-15 Sagarika, with a range of 700 km. This has been tested several times using a pressurised canister submerged under water to mimic a submarine-style launch.

The second, a longer range 3,500-km missile, is under test and one such test has already been conducted.

On if the follow on vessel of Arihant will have a more powerful propulsion system, Admiral Joshi said “the effort will be bring out a better system than the older one”. The Navy is concurrently evaluating the propulsion of Arihant and Russian vessel INS Chakra to work out the power system for the next N-sub.

INS Chakra, a nuclear-powered vessel leased from Russia, had joined its home base at Vishakhapatnam in April. On the conventional diesel-electric submarine plan, the Navy Chief said a request for proposal for the next lot of submarines would be issued soon.

These will have air independent propulsion (AIP), allowing the submarines to be submerged for 15 days without surfacing.

The submarine

    INS Arihant, launched in July 2009, is first of a series of three ballistic missile-carrying submarines to be built indigenously
    Will be used for 'deterrent patrol', capable of a retaliatory 'second strike' in case of a nuclear attack
    Will carry full load of nuclear-tipped missiles that can be launched from under the sea
Army lost half of its firing ranges in 3 yrs
The number falls from 104 in 2009 to 51 as states deny land use
Vijay Mohan/TNS

Chandigarh, December 5
In three years, the Army has lost over half of its field firing ranges that are vital for training and indoctrination of troops. The Ministry of Defence is holding the state governments responsible for not making land available for use by the Army, resulting in the number plummeting from 104 to just 51.

“Out of the total 104 firing ranges held by the Army till 2009, 38 were deleted from the list of firing ranges in 2009 due to these being not available for use by the Army or not re-notified by the state governments concerned in spite of concerted efforts,” Defence Minister AK Antony said in Parliament.

“Out of the remaining 66 firing ranges, 15 have been de-notified by various state governments,” he added.

The non-availability of ranges has adversely affected training and operational preparedness of the Army as it not only restricts mechanised manoeuvres under simulated battle conditions, but also prevents live firing by tanks and artillery which is essential for battle inoculation of troops and testing equipment.

Another reason behind dwindling number of ranges is said to be the clearances required to be obtained from the Ministry of Environment and Forests for use of forest land for non-forest activities in accordance with the Forest Conservation Act, 1980.

“Due to urbanisation, encroachment, unauthorised occupation and land rights resting with the state governments, the firing range land for armed forces is shrinking year after year,” Antony rued. Pointing out that concerted efforts were being made at all levels to ensure early re-notification of the de-notified ranges with the Army Commands also taking up the issue at Civil Military Liaison Conferences, Antony said efforts were on to impress upon the state governments and the Ministry of Environment and Forest for re- notification/acquisition of field firing ranges.

The issue of non-availability of firing ranges was also taken up by Parliament’s Standing Committee on Defence, which observed that while the Ministry of Defence had launched a process of consultations with all stakeholders in order to find a mutually acceptable solution to the problem, it was high time that the ministry initiated “expeditious and concrete steps” to resolve the issue in a time-bound manner.

In fact, a recent report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had revealed that inadequate infrastructure and facilities, including firing ranges and simulators, had compromised the training standards of recruits. These deficiencies, CAG observed, resulted in poor standards of firing of troops and non-achievement of excellence in battle efficiency tests and physical proficiency tests.


    38 entries were deleted from the list of firing ranges in 2009
    15 more firing ranges have also been de-notified by various state govts
    CAG has recently observed that dwindling number of firing ranges has adversely affected the training standards of recruits
India, Pak to up vigil on Punjab border
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 5
India and Pakistan have agreed to increase vigil at the international border in Punjab to prevent smuggling of heroin and other narcotic drugs into India. The matter was discussed at the ninth Director General-level talks between the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) and Pakistan's Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) this evening.

Drugs are smuggled into India mainly through Punjab. One of the biggest seizures of drugs in India this year has been the 105-kg haul at the Attari-Wagah rail section on October 8. The goods train had arrived from Pakistan.

Besides focusing on increasing vigilance at the Punjab border, the NCB and the ANF also discussed sharing intelligence on drug trafficking and the modus operandi of drug smugglers.

Addressing a joint press conference, Major General Malik Zafar Iqbal, ANF Director General (DG), said, "The Indo-Pak border in Punjab has been under debate (between the two countries) due to smuggling of narcotics. We worked for curbing the menace in the Punjab area this year and have had certain successes (in Pakistan)."

Ajay Chadha, NCB Director General, cited a United Nations report saying about 90 per cent of the opium used to manufacture heroin is produced in Afghanistan. "Some of the heroin comes to India through Pakistan," he said.
China cautions India against oil exploration

Beijing, December 5
China today cautioned India against any “unilateral” attempt to pursue oil exploration in the disputed South China Sea, saying that it is opposed to nations outside the region to intervene in the disputed area.

“China opposes any unilateral oil and gas exploration activities in disputed areas in the South China Sea and hopes relevant countries respect China's sovereignty and national interests, as well as the efforts of countries within the region to resolve disputes through bilateral negotiations,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said today.

Lei was reacting to Navy chief Admiral D K Joshi's remarks that Indian Navy was prepared to deploy vessels to the South China Sea to defend India's economic interests there. National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon said that Joshi's remarks were misrepresented. The reporting on Joshi's remarks amounted to stretching the truth, Menon said, while wrapping up his three-day visit here yesterday. He said Chinese side have not raised the issue with him during the talks. While reporting Joshi's remarks, state-run Global Times said India is not a direct claimant of disputed islands in the South China Sea, but a deal signed by the Indian explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) and Vietnam in October last year to explore the oil and gas block in the disputed waters has sparked a diplomatic row between Beijing and New Delhi. — PTI
India urges Israel to speed up defence projects
NEW DELHI: India has asked Israel to speed up crucial bilateral defence projects, including the around Rs 13,000 crore development of two advanced surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems to arm Indian armed forces against hostile aircraft, drones and helicopters.

This came at the 10th joint working group on defence cooperation here, co-chaired by defence secretary Shashikant Sharma and Israeli defence ministry director-general Major-General Ehud Shani.

While the regional and global security situation, including the recent Israel-Hamas ceasefire, figured in the talks, the focus was on bilateral defence training programmes, exchanges, R&D projects and armament deals.

Israel is India's second largest defence supplier, second only to Russia, but the expansive ties are largely kept under wraps due to political sensitivities. Tel Aviv records military sales worth around $1 billion to New Delhi every year, ranging from Heron and Searcher UAVs, Harpy and Harop 'killer' drones to Barak anti-missile defence systems and Green Pine radars, Python and Derby air-to-air missiles.

Sources said India expressed "concern'' at the "two-year delay'' in completion of the long-range SAM (LR-SAM) project, sanctioned in December 2005 at a cost of Rs 2,606 crore to arm Indian warships.

There are "minor hitches'' even in the bigger Rs 10,076 crore medium-range SAM (MR-SAM) project, sanctioned in February 2009 for air defence squadrons of IAF.

Both the SAM systems, being developed by Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) in collaboration with DRDO, have the same missile with an interception range of 70-km. They are to be produced in bulk by defence PSU Bharat Dynamics (BDL) to plug the existing holes in India's air defence cover.

"While the multi-function surveillance and threat radars, weapon control systems with data links and the like of the LR-SAM have all been tested, there has been delay in the missiles being developed by IAI,'' said a source.

"But the Israelis said everything was sorted out now and they will try to make up for the delay. DRDO has already finished its work on the propulsion and other systems,'' he added. Incidentally, the LR-SAM project was to be completed by May this year.

Another major missile project, worth around $1 billion, that Israel could bag is the one to supply third-generation anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) to the 1.13-million strong Indian Army. The Army has already trial-evaluated the Israeli 'Spike' ATGM after the US offer of its 'Javelin' missiles was shelved due to Washington's reluctance to undertake "transfer of technology'' to ensure BDL can make them in large numbers, as reported by TOI earlier.

India is also in commercial negotiations for another two advanced Israeli Phalcon AWACS (airborne warning and control systems), capable of detecting hostile aircraft, cruise missiles and other incoming aerial threats far before ground-based radars, at a cost of over $800 million. The first three Phalcon AWACS were inducted by IAF in 2009-2010 under the $1.1 billion tripartite agreement between India, Israel and Russia.
Pakistani intelligence agencies use new software to seek information on Indian Army
JAISALMER: Receiving a phone call on your mobile phone from an unknown Indian telephone number and asking for information about the Indian Army, etc can be dangerous - this could be a call from the Pakistani intelligence agency.

The Pakistan Intelligence Operative Agency (PIOA) associated with Pak intelligence agency ISI has recently uploaded software named 'fone phreak' on Google and efforts are being made to call the Indian Army, BSF, Indian intelligence agencies and journalists to collect information. Though the calls are made from Pakistan, the number is that of Indian operators. Among the many calls received in the last 20 days, three calls were from Pakistan while the number displayed on the mobile screen was of that of Tata company's call centre in Hyderabad. After such efforts from Pakistan, the Army has alerted its units and directed them not to give out any information on the phone. Indian security and intelligence agencies and telecommunication department do not have any arrangement to stop this software. Otherwise too, this software can be used by many other people just for fun. Various security and intelligence agencies have expressed concern over this software.

There has been a sudden increase in incoming calls from unknown numbers on mobile phones. If anyone gets such calls repeatedly then the police should be informed immediately. This software is uploaded in the computer which can be downloaded free of cost and can be used for wrong purposes.

After downloading this software, one could use it for an hour and make fake calls. After downloading this software, two boxes are seen; in one box we have to put phone number from which the call has to be made and in the other box, the number has to be put on which the call is to be made. On dialing, the receiver cannot identify your phone number and will only see the number that has been put in the first box.

This software can be uploaded from many countries including America, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Denmark, Belgium, India, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and some others.

There has been heavy increase in incidents of getting fake calls in India.

A TOI correspondent too received three calls in November. The caller introduced himself as a journalist from London and wanted details of the Army's exercise and movement in Thar desert.

For quite some time In the past some time, army, BSF, intelligence agencies, security agencies were also getting fake calls and there has been heavy increase in this. The caller calls himself from Indian army or officer from any other Indian agency and try to get information. The army has directed its jawans to be extra alert in this regard.

As this software can be downloaded free of cost, many people such as criminals, eve-teasers and miscreants can use it to tease girls or create problems for others. If the Centre does not ban this software then any person can misuse this software.

Defence spokeman S D Goswami said, "Electronic communications do not respect national frontiers. Mobile phone communication provides an easy tool as part of digital spy war game plan or programmed agenda of Pakistan. We are fully aware of this type of warfare and have preventive measures in place. Our troops are now fully aware of such war through other means. We are keeping an eye on malicious tactics of anti-national elements and educate our rank and file through our awareness programmes. We have comprehensive cyber security instructions and defaulters are dealt with severely. "
Armed forces need to improve efficiency and effectiveness of MRO function
Report by India Education bureau, New Delhi:  “Maintenance of capital equipment is a critical activity.  Technological complexity, resource limitations, regulations and above  all, equipment uptime and user satisfaction make Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) a significant challenge for manufacturers, asset owners and those tasked with maintaining these assets,” said  Mr. Jitendra Singh, Rajya Raksha Mantri, Government of India.

Addressing the ‘International Seminar on Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul in Land Systems:
A 21st Century Perspective for Army’,  here today organized by  Corps of Electronics & Mechanical Engineers (EME) in association with  FICCI, Mr. Singh pointed out that a modern Army’s equipment readiness has to be always sustained at high levels, in order to meet the demands of a complex and uncertain operating environment. Our modernisation strategy is focused on acquiring capabilities that will enable us to succeed in any operation today or in the future.

The detailed deliberations amongst the experts and professionals drawn from various stakeholder organizations took place in a meaningful way and several lessons emerged consequent to the discussions. The domain experts agreed on the common agenda that MRO system offers vast opportunity in terms of enhancing mission reliability, overall equipment readiness and offers a significant workload to the industry. The seminar offered an opportunity to both the Army and industry for building co-operation, partnership and the way ahead in the 21st century.

“The proliferation of Land Weapon Systems across the complete spectrum in the military necessitates effective implementation and integration of MRO environment. Mission reliability of assets at economic cost will be a critical priority, and thus the armed forces need to improve both the efficiency and the effectiveness of their MRO function immensely. Doing this would require fundamental changes to organization, processes and mindsets,” he explained.

Mr. Singh opined, “By better matching the MRO protocol to our current need  – i.e. making MRO services available closer to the front line  – the armed forces can reduce redundancy, minimize transportation requirements, maximize economies of scale and improve asset availability. Once efficient MRO processes have been designed and implemented, the organization must adhere to these processes and seek to improve them in the face of emerging knowledge and changing demand. To do this, excellent capabilities in manpower planning, information management, operations management and system responsiveness would be the key drivers.”

Mr. Singh stated, “A reliability centered approach to sustainment that looks at minimizing downtimes, prognostic techniques to anticipate failures and use of analytical software tools to model wartime availabilities are the emerging best practices of in-service engineering. I can foresee the effective integration and implementation of MRO best practices for Land Systems and strengthening of jointness within the Military Industrial complex.”

Lt Gen NB Singh, AVSM, VSM, DG EME & Sr Col Comdt, Integrated HQ of MoD (Army), said that MRO is a natural outgrowth of product lifecycle management. As such, it plays an integrated and seamless role in digital lifecycle management from requirements to retirements, thereby providing an ultimate force multiplier. MRO’s heritage provides tools and capabilities that have their roots in a time-tested, mission critical technology.

Further he stated, “The proliferation of Land Weapon Systems across the complete spectrum in the military necessitates effective implementation of the MRO environment. The need of the hour would be to adopt the concept of MRO to reorient the disjointed or non-existing MRO philosophy of land systems in the services with the objectives: (a) Application of knowledge and resources in MRO for enhancing operational availability and Mission readiness; (b) Evolving a PPP model for cooperation between civil and defence establishments in MRO of Land Systems and (c) Developing new technology, tools, processes and metrics for upscaling supportability of Land Systems.”
“Traditionally, MRO has been with the Aviation Industry and implemented in an efficient manner for achieving best mission reliability. The process is giving a rich dividend to the aviation sector. Army should explore and utilize experiences gained across the aviation industry for enhancement of combat potential of its land systems. MRO processes are highly complex and time consuming but if managed with structured and scientific approach, then benefits of cost, low inventory and higher mission reliability will be reaped,” remarked  Lt Gen A S Chabbelwal, YSM, Master General of Ordinance, Integrated HQ of MoD (Army).

He added, “Army today has to continuously find creative methods and processes to help improve the efficiency and reliability of maintenance facilities and operations. It has to ensure that through innovative methods, increased total uptime and value generating capabilities are improved. I visualize the MRO for land systems evolving in a multi disciplinary field having a seamless integration among the supply chain managers, trainers, reliability centered engineering, the manufacturers of product, ERP solution providers, material innovations etc. The real growth will be determined by bundling solution to meet wide range of applications.”

Lt Gen A S Chabbelwal said that notwithstanding the Army’s modernisation programme, the current ground weapon systems will continue to be in service for another 20-30 years, thus it is imperative that not only they are overhauled but also technology insertion at appropriate points are made. I am confident the MRO processes will lay the frame work for the same.

Mr. M V Kotwal, Chairman, FICCI Defence Committee, President – Heavy Engineering, Larsen & Toubro Ltd and Member of Board, L&T, said, “To contribute meaningfully to the growth of indigenous defence sector, FICCI’s one-point agenda is towards creation of a robust defence industrial base in the country with meaningful participation of the private sector in armed forces modernization. FICCI is striving to make the private sector an indispensable and integral part of this modernization process.”

Towards this objective, FICCI is constantly engaging with the policy makers and User to project the strengths of the private sector. Moving ahead in this direction, it is imperative to bring about better understanding of needs and expectations between the User and industry and this seminar will provide such opportunity to the industry and User.

General Bikram Singh, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM , SM, VSM, ADC, Chief of the Army Staff, Integrated HQ of MoD (Army)  also addressed the audience and the vote of thanks was delivered by Mr. Sidharth Birla, Vice President, FICCI.

The event was spread into six technical sessions with the following themes: Opportunities & Challenges in the Maintenance of Land Systems for the Indian Army; Role of MRO in Enhancing Operational Capability and Mission Readiness; Multi-dimensional Industrial Base Integration and Corporation-Perspectives in Public Private Partnership; Enabling Maintenance in a Netcentric Environment through MRO; MRO as Backbone for Equipment Life Cycle Sustainment and MRO: The Road Ahead.
Army ‘land grab’: Centre likely to take action
JAISALMER: Rajasthan is likely to win its tussle over 483-acre prime land, also known as Girdhar Camp, with the Army as the Centre is set to take action against the force for non-payment of the requisite amount for the land. The land, barely one km away from Jaisalmer town, is in possession of the Army for the past 44 years.

According to the district administration, the Army is neither leaving the place nor making payment against the demand note of Rs 414 crore for land. District administration officials claimed that many reminders for the payment have been sent to the Army authorities but to no avail. During the Army liaison meeting held on September 16, the administration has also expressed its annoyance over the matter and despite the Army authorities agreeing to deposit the amount at the current rates, have not done so, sources said. The issue is also under scanner of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its report.

District administration sources said after the 1965 Indo-Pak war, the land was given temporarily to the Army on its request for the purpose of transit camp to park Army vehicles. At present, several five- and three-star hotels have come up in front of the Girdhar Camp and with the formation of the urban improvement trust in Jaisalmer, land cost in the area has shot up sky-high.

The sources also said, as per the records, at the end of 1965 war, the land measuring 483 acre was allotted to Army in 1968 on the condition that it would deposit the money as fixed by the state government. At that time, the government had sent a demand letter of Rs 23.37 lakh, which the Army failed to deposit. Later, on January 14, 1977, the defence department had sent a letter to the state government saying it didn't require the land. After getting approval from the state government, the district administration cancelled the allotment on September 20, 1989. After some time, the defence department demanded re-allotment of the land, following which the state government directed that a transit camp be set up at the cantonment land allotted to the Army and told the force to immediately vacate Girdhar Camp. Protesting this decision, the Army filed two different petitions in the court. The court's decision was also in favour of the government, yet going against the said orders, the Army filed a case under the single-bench civil revision petition section 115, the sources said.

Following the Army petition, the Jodhpur divisional commissioner was directed to resolve the issue. The divisional commissioner on October 27, 1999, sent a proposal and recommended re-allotment of the land to the Army under certain conditions.

At the liaison meeting, the Army authorities were informed that if they pay for the land as per the district-level committee rates, the state government would consider allotting the land to them.

District collector Shuchi Tyagi said Centre would be taking action against the Army for the non-payment.

Meanwhile, defence spokesperson Col S D Goswami said, "The Girdhar Camp land belongs to the former ruler of Jaisalmer, HH Maharawal Girdhar Singh, and was gifted to Ganga Risala of the Bikaner State Forces upon the merger of state forces with the Indian Army. Ganga Risala was re-designated as 13 Grenadiers Regiment. No formal written proof exists in revenue records of the gift as the rulers followed only traditional laws.

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