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Thursday, 4 February 2016

From Today's Papers - 04 Feb 2016

10 missing in Siachen avalanche
Helipad wiped out; rescue ops on as hope fades for Madras Regiment men
Tribune News Service

New Delhi/Jammu, February 3
At least 10 soldiers of the Indian Army are missing following a major avalanche on the Siachen Glacier early this morning.

Rescue teams of the Army and the Indian Air Force were sent to the inaccessible spot with specialised equipment as hopes of finding survivors diminished. The rescuers face lack of oxygen and freezing temperatures, which can drop to minus 40°C at night.

The avalanche occurred at an altitude of 19,600 ft when a “wall of ice” buried the post — a stone bunker. A Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) and nine soldiers were at the post at the time of the incident, said Northern Army Command spokesperson Colonel SD Goswami.

A nearby helipad, that allows IAF and Army helicopters to land for supplies, was also wiped out. The avalanche occurred in the northern-most part of the 70 sq-km glacier that forms the India, Pakistan and China trijunction.Rescue operations were launched during the day but were called off at about

4 pm as temperatures dipped. “It was risky for the rescue teams. The operations will resume tomorrow,” a senior official said. Northern Army Commander Lt Gen DS Hooda is supervising the operations.

The Madras Regiment is stationed in the area. Avalanches at such altitudes can be severe. Siachen doesn’t have loose snow and an avalanche involves ice blocks moving down from the heights.

The average altitude in the area is 20,000 ft and even day temperatures are minus 20° Celsius. Indian troops had occupied the glacier in 1984 after fears that Pakistan was trying to take over the area. A 109-km divide between India and Pakistan is called the actual ground position line.

Last month, four soldiers of 3 Ladakh Scouts were killed when their patrol team was hit by an avalanche.

Shoot-at-sight orders at western sector air bases

New Delhi: In a twin-pronged project to protect bases of the Indian Air Force, the Ministry of Defence has issued shoot-at-sight orders against intruders and also asked the IAF to come up with a high-tech security plan for 54 bases across the country. It is expected to cost Rs 8,000 crore.

All air bases in the western sector — Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir and parts of Rajasthan — have been put on high alert following the terror attack on the Pathankot Air Force station. The shoot-at-sight order would apply to any person trying to scale a boundary wall or break in through barbed wires. The second part is infusion of new technology. The MoD has revived a project for a high-tech security system at the perimeter of air bases. — Ajay Banerjee
Details out, OROP to cost govt Rs 7,500 crore more
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 3
The Union Government today issued instructions to allow enhanced pensions to ex-servicemen under the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme and also the release of arrears.

The enhanced pension will cost the government an additional Rs 7,500 core per year at current rates and will benefit 18 lakh retired soldiers and war widows.
The Ministry of Defence in its order appended a 204-page list of tables and calculations for each category of pensioners.

The orders on OROP were issued on November 7 last year and the calculations of tables for enhanced pensions were pending, which has been done under today’s instructions.

In case of people who took premature retirement (PMR), the OROP orders would apply only to those who took PMR on or before November 6, 2015, signifying that those who take PMR in future would not be eligible for OROP.

The arrears are for the period between July 1, 2014, and December 31, 2015, and that alone would cost Rs 10,900 crore. About 86 per cent of the total expenditure on account of OROP would benefit other ranks.

The payment of arrears and revision of pension under OROP is to be made by the Pension Disbursing Authorities in four installments, except for family pensioners and pensioners in receipt of gallantry awards who will be paid arrears in a single installment.

The total increase in the Defence Budget for pensions is estimated to go up from Rs 54,000 crore to around Rs 65,000 crore, thereby increasing the defence pension outlay by about 20 per cent.
Prez confers Gen rank on Nepalese army chief
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 3
In a minor diplomatic coup, India, despite its existing strained relations with Nepal, today conferred Nepalese army chief General Rajendra Chhetri with the honorary rank of General of the Indian Army.

Notably, despite the prevailing irksome issues, New Delhi was keen that General Chhetri visits India first instead of opting to visit China. As India maintains a large hold over Nepal, China has been trying to woo the Himalayan country with sops. This is General Chhetri's first 'port of call' after taking over as chief of Nepalese army in September 2015.

General Chhetri was accorded the rank by President Pranab Mukherjee at an investiture ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan today.

It is a custom and tradition between the Indian and Nepalese army to confer this honour on each other's chief to signify close and special military to military ties. Indian Army Chief General Dalbir Singh was conferred the rank of General of the Nepalese army in November 2014 when he visited the Himalayan nation.

General Chhetri is on a six-day visit to India. He shall be visiting the Infantry School and Army War College at Mhow and the Artillery School at Deolali wherein he shall be witnessing the training and facilities at Indian Army premier training institutes. During his visit to Lucknow, the General shall be interacting with top military hierarchy of Headquarters Central Command and shall also visit the Gorkha Rifles Regimental Centre.
India gets final batch of Mi-17V-5 copters
Russia has handed over to India the final batch of three Mi-17V-5 military transport helicopters under a previously signed contract even as it gets ready to ink yet another deal for another 48 such helicopters.

The contract with Rosoboronexport, a company of Rostec State Corporation, entailed a total of 151 units of the Mi-17V-5 helicopter, produced by the Kazan Helicopter Plant, part of Russian Helicopters company.

“India is one of the key markets for Russian helicopters and the largest operator of Russian helicopters in southeast Asia. Today, more than 400 vehicles are operating in the country,” said General Director of the holding company Russian Helicopters Alexander Mikheyev.

Mi-17V-5, supplied to India, are among the most technically advanced helicopters of the Mi-8/17 type. Each Indian Mi-17V-5 has a complex navigation and electronic display KNEI-8. — PTI 

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