The Indian Army is running short of funds and has put on hold temporary allowances, paid to officers when they travel for purposes such as tours and training, according to a notice that was briefly put up by its accounts division on its website on Monday.
The notice was soon pulled down, and officials in the army, who asked not to be named, said such posts were “uncalled for” and painted a “poor picture.”
“Due to insufficient funds available under Temporary duty and Permanent Duty Heads of Army officers, no TA/DA advances and claims can be processed till receipt of sufficient funds under the relevant heads. However, the facility for Leave Travel Concession will continue,” said the post put up by the Principal Comptroller of Defence Accounts (PCDA), Pune, the agency that disburses salaries and emoluments to officers.
The freeze is likely to hit hundreds of officers. The army has 40,000 officers and at any given time, at least 1,000 officers are on the move or on “temporary duty” to attend courses, planning conferences, Court of Inquiries (CoI), or exercises among other things.
After the interim budget, the defence ministry said it had received the biggest-ever allocation, an increase of around 7% over last year’s provisioning.
“Sensitive issues like operational plans, deployments cannot always be discussed on the phone and officers are called to formation headquarters including Army Headquarters...,” a senior officer who did not want to named, said explaining why officers need to move frequently.
The 1.3-million strong force spends about Rs 4,000 crore every year to pay officers and men who move from their stations for conferences with various formations, planning, training, field exercises and to attend courses.
“This year about Rs 3200 crore has been spent,” a second senior officer, who didn’t want to be named, said. “An additional amount – of about Rs 800 crore - has been allocated to tide over the crisis,” he said.
The ministry of defence played down the issue. A spokesperson said “at times, funds allotted (based on estimated expenditure) to specific heads fall short of the actual expenditure.
The shortfalls are only temporary and are resolved routinely through re-appropriations. Adequate funds are provided under all heads including Temporary and Permanent Duty heads.”