This year, there isn't enough revenue allocation, including for Dearness Allowance for the entire year, highly-placed sources said

With India facing Covid related economic difficulties, the Army, deployed in East Ladakh, is expecting a modest 6 per cent plus increase in its capital expenditure allocation in the coming Union budget.

Highly placed government sources said that the increase will be modest, and at a time when a number of purchases of new weaponry are in the pipeline. They include purchases of:

• 5 regiments of air-defence gun-missile systems from South Korea or perhaps, Russia, costing about Rs 15,000 crore

• 400 howitzers by Elbit, an Israeli firm, following which another 1180 can be manufactured in India after the transfer of technology. This is a relatively inexpensive weapon system and the 400 gun deal is valued at less than Rs 5000 crore.

This is being considered crucial as the gun being developed by the DRDO will take another 3-4 years to be ready and it is currently being seen as a little too heavy.

Similarly, the 130mm guns that have been 'up-gunned' to 155mm cannot be used beyond a point in the mountains due to technical reasons.

• The purchase of Kamov choppers is also stuck. The agreement has a reference to about 70 per cent indigenous content, but the Russian manufacturers are having difficulties going beyond 60 per cent.

• The manufacture of the Russian AK-203 is also stuck because of issues relating to 'royalty'. India is not keen to pay a royalty to the designers per weapon manufactured in India. Several lakh AK-203s are likely to be made not just for the army but after that, the para-military forces.

• The plan to purchase carbines from the UAE has also been put on hold. This was at the last minute after the negotiations were completed.

While the capital budget deals with the purchase of weaponry and also, construction and other work, revenue involves salaries, purchases of fuel and spares and other expenses. The Army's capital budget was about Rs 32,000 crore in 2020-21, with about Rs 23,000 crore for purchase of new weapons and revenue, about Rs 145,000 crore.

There were savings in the revenue budget, Covid being a reason. The training was cut down. Some courses and movements of troops were postponed. Also, in the work area, there was a slowdown because of labour shortages after the migration last year. To move revenue allocations to the capital budget can be done but it requires the Finance Ministry's clearance. 

"DA hasn't been factored in," a senior official said, hoping it will be made good later.

Atmanirbhar Bharat is also an issue. While indigenisation is very important, everything can't be made at home. And the Army has been assured at the highest levels that everything necessary doesn't have to be indigenous.

Facing such a situation, the Army Chief General M.M. Naravane, speaking at a public function, spoke about the need for a revolution in bureaucratic affairs, the laborious procurement process and the rules, which ought to be more friendly to the users, meaning the armed forces, and the manufacturers. Yes, the army was committed to indigenous purchases, but some weapons had to be imported. "We can't have an operational void when the enemy is at the gates," he had said.