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Tuesday, 24 February 2015

From Today's Papers - 24 Feb 2015



















http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/want-immediate-delivery-of-5th-gen-fighter-india-to-russia/46014.html
Want immediate delivery of 5th-gen fighter: India to Russia
Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service
New Delhi, February 23     

Faced with a dwindling fleet of fighter jets, India is pressing its military ally Russia for immediate delivery of the fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA).

New Delhi has suggested to Moscow that the T-50 fighter jet (being built as an FGFA) can be supplied to the Indian Air Force (IAF) while the research to improve upon the aircraft can carry on simultaneously. The same formula of graded improvements was applied in the case of Sukhoi-30 MkI jets.

Top government sources told The Tribune that Russians have been insisting on a $ 11-billion R&D contract for the FGFA project.

India, on its part, says since the plane is already flying, such a contract can be inked along with simultaneous deliveries of the plane to the IAF.  Russia is yet to decide on India’s request.

Bulk deliveries of the T-50 jet for Russian forces will commence in 2016.  India wants Russia to deliver 144 jets. Russian go-ahead will give the IAF necessary number of planes to phase out  ageing MiG-21s and MiG-27s. In a war scenario with China, an aircraft such as the T-50 would be ideal for missions deep into Tibet. Beijing has a very good border infrastructure that poses threat to India.

Indications of a breakthrough in the deadlock over FFGA deal had come at the just-concluded Aero-India.  Both sides separately acknowledged they were close to finalising the T-50 deal for the PAK-FA (Prospective Airborne Complex of Frontline Aviation) programme being run by Russia.

IAF Chief Air Chief Marshall Arup Raha had last week said: “The future belongs to fifth-generation fighters.  Pending issues with Russia will be resolved soon and we will have a compressed timeline for deliveries”.

From the Russian side, the state-owned United Aircraft Corporation's (UAC) president Yuri Slyusar had said: “The Russian and Indian parties have reached a consensus on the work share of each party”.


http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/withdrawal-of-toll-exemption-to-armymen-stayed/46025.html
Withdrawal of toll exemption to Armymen stayed
Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 23
Granting interim relief to serving defence personnel, the Armed Forces Tribunal has stayed the operation of a letter issued by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MRTH) to withdraw the exemption provided to them from paying toll tax across the country.

Taking up a petition filed by a serving army officer, Maj P Hota, averring that the letter was in contravention of legislative provisions and earlier letters issued by the MRTH and attempted to take away a statutory condition of service of serving military personnel, the Tribunal today ordered that the letter would be kept in abeyance till the matter was appropriately resolved.

Serving defence personnel had been up in arms against the letter issued by Director (Tolls) in the MRTH on June 17, 2014, in which it was stated that toll exemption was only available to defence personnel while travelling “on duty”. However, Section 3(a) of the Act does not contain any stipulation of being “on duty” for personnel of the regular Army and the provision of “duty” was applicable only to Territorial Army and NCC personnel under Sections 3(b) and 3(c).

The Services Headquarters had also recently pointed out to the MRTH that the letter, ostensibly issued under the garb of a clarification under the Right to Information Act, was against the Act and it was also in contravention of earlier letters and clarifications issued by MRTH after consulting the Law Ministry which stated that there was no requirement of being “on duty” for personnel of regular forces.

The MRTH had recently clarified that the impugned letter was being re-examined, for which comments of the MoD were being sought. The petitioner has also requested the Tribunal to direct the MRTH, MoD and the Army headquarters to coordinate and resolve the controversy in a time-bound manner.

The provisions of Section 3 of the Act were earlier challenged before the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2006, which upheld toll exemption to defence personnel. The orders were also later upheld by the Supreme Court.


http://news.biharprabha.com/2015/02/indian-army-signs-mou-with-sbi-over-defence-salary-package/
Indian Army signs MoU with SBI over Defence Salary Package
New Delhi: A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed today between the Indian Army and State Bank of India (SBI) on the Defence Salary Package. The signing in ceremony was chaired by the Adjutant General, Lt Gen Rakesh Sharma and was attended by top dignitaries of SBI Bank, headed by Dr Vaidyan MG, Dy MD (Retail Strategy).
The first MoU between SBI and the Indian Army was signed in 2011 and was valid for a period of three years. The revised MoU is tailor-made to suit the requirements of serving soldiers, pensioners and families. A number of additional facilities have been incorporated in the revised MoU after concerted efforts spanning over a year.

The basic features of the MoU include a number of free / concessional services like free drafts, free cheque books, free funds transfers to any bank in India through RTGS / NEFT, free ATM cards etc. The provision also includes the Nepal Express Remittance Scheme which enables instant fund transfers to Nepal for the benefit of the Nepali Domicile Gorkha Soldiers serving in the Indian Army.

Additional improved features are linking of the Personal Accident Insurance (PAI) to the Savings account instead of the debit card, enhancement of the PAI amounts, enhancement of the exemption percentage of margin money for house and car loans and waiving off of the processing charges on the loans. The revised MoU will benefit almost 19.5 lakh pensioners and 10 lakh serving personnel who hold Pay or Pension accounts with SBI and also provide them an opportunity to access modern banking facilities.


http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/Defence-Expansion-Plan-Gets-Mamatas-Red-Flag/2015/02/23/article2682634.ece
Defence Expansion Plan Gets Mamata's Red Flag


KOLKATA: The country’s defence preparedness has hit a roadblock, thanks to the Trinamool Congress Government in West Bengal. To thwart China’s military plans near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and repeated incursions, the Army and the IAF have been planning to expand their operations in North Bengal and also set up new bases. But these plans have run into trouble because of the Land Acquisition Policy of the Mamata Banerjee Government.

The Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) proposals to expand the Army Cantonment at Kalimpong and set up an Armoured Corps division and a “composite aviation base” in North Bengal hang in the balance as the state government has been dragging its heel on the issue for the last two years. To break the deadlock, senior officers of the Eastern Command had held a “civil-military liaison” meeting with the senior officials of the state government, last month. An official attached to the MoD said,”Not acquiring land from the farmers for industry purposes might be the CM’s policy as part of vote bank politics but this is a case of national security which can never be compromised for the sake of populism. We need the land as soon as possible to expand our base as we have been receiving disturbing reports about Chinese activities across the border in this region.”

Defence officials pointed out that unlike West Bengal, neighbouring Assam had fully cooperated with the defence forces. IAF stations in Tezpur and Chhabua in Dibrugarh had been upgraded and bases for Sukhoi T-50 aircraft have been set up. The existing IAF stations in Jorhat and Mohanbari in Assam and Bagdogra and Hashimara in West Bengal are being modernised. At the Mountain Strike Corps headquarters (HQ) in Panagarh, an IAF station for C-130 J Super Hercules aircraft, which can fly troops and weapons very fast to the Sino-Indian border, has been built.

A state government official, who was present at the civil-military liaison meeting, expressed helplessness and said, “We fully realise the immediacy of the issue... We have informed the Army that the present government treats the issue of land acquisition in a different manner compared to its predecessors. The decision has to be taken by the state Cabinet headed by the CM.”

Following intelligence reports on the Chinese activities along the LAC, the Army has listed parts of North Bengal and NorthEast region of the country, particularly Arunachal Pradesh which China claims as its own territory, as a “sensitive zone.” In 2013, the then Defence Minister A K Antony had approved a Budget to the tune of `65,000 crore to form a “Mountain Strike Corps” in the Eastern and NorthEast regions. Accordingly, the two Mountain Divisions were “fully raised” with 30,000 troops in the NorthEast as a counter-measure and to shore up mountain warfare capabilities. The new Mountain Divisions came up at a time when the country’s security brass was warily watching the massive upgrade of Chinese military infrastructure along the 4,057-km-long LAC - the ceasefire line as there is no clearly demarcated border. West Bengal is closely connected with the MoD’s plans to counter China’s growing military presence in Southern Tibet but Mamata’s ‘vote bank politics’ is a stumbling block in the region.

Two years ago, a senior Army official had met the CM at Siliguri and sought 750 acres of land next to the Binaguri Army Cantonment to establish an Armoured Corps Division. He stressed the need, saying that China was actively increasing its influence in neighbouring Bhutan and Nepal, according to the military intelligence (MI). The MI had stated that China was carrying out charitable activities and imparting free education through some voluntary organisations operating alongside the LAC and using them to carry out espionage activities in the region. The neighbouring country was also spending huge sums of money to set up Buddhist monasteries in the region, it pointed out.

The Army, which has a strong presence in the Binaguri Cantonment, plans not only to increase the number of its personnel but also to have an Armoured Corps Division with MBT Arjun tanks and armoured vehicles. It currently has 63 Armoured Corps Regiments and has also raised the Ladakh Scouts and two Battalions of Arunachal.

According to the proposals, an Armoured Corps Division is planned at Jalpaiguri’s Dumdim, a “composite aviation base” of the IAF at Shougaon, and expansion of the Army base at Kalimpong in Darjeeling district. During the meeting with the senior state government officials, the defence officials said that for posting the new Mountain Division, the Armoured Corps base, equipped with latest weapons, including missiles, and 750 acres of land was needed at Dumdim. The Army had also identified the land needed for the railway link to Dumdim and the MoD had given the green signal to acquire the land in 2013.

  For the IAF’s base at Shougaon, 361 acres are needed and 1,250 acres for expansion of the Army Cantonment at Kalimpong. According to sources at Fort William, the HQ of the Eastern Command, “Expansion of the Kalimpong base is an immediate need as it is one of the pillars guarding our borders with China in Sikkim as 15,000 troops are deployed in the base, spread over 415 acres. We need to expand it by at least three times and that is why an additional 1,250 acres of land is needed.”

The state government, however, is not giving the “no objection certificate (NoC)” to acquire the land.

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