Government will insist on probity in armed forces: Patil

Monday, February 21, 2011

NEW DELHI - Against the backdrop of the armed forces being hit by series of land scams in recent years, President Pratibha Patil Monday said the government would insist on the highest levels of probity and professionalism in the military.

She also noted that the government would ensure building of indigenous defence production and development capabilities by promoting private industry.

“My government will continue to ensure the welfare of servicemen and ex-servicemen and insist on the highest levels of probity and professionalism in the armed forces,” Patil, who is the supreme commander of the armed forces, told a joint session of parliament at the start of the budget session.

The scams relating to defence land involving its senior officers include the Sukna land episode in West Bengal, the Adarsh Housing Society in Mumbai and Central Ordnance Depot land in Mumbai’s outskirts .

“My government is taking all necessary steps to transform our armed forces into a modern force that is equipped to meet the security challenges of the 21st century,” Patil said in her address.

She noted that special attention was being paid to the indigenous development of defence technologies, the expansion of defence production capabilities and the creation of an environment for private industry to contribute to defence production.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) will induct the indigenous light combat aircraft Tejas, Patil said. Tejas had obtained its initial operational clearance for the IAF pilots to fly them last month ahead of their induction that is likely to happen in 2012. The IAF will operate seven squadrons of Tejas - numbering about 140 aircraft - in its fleet.

Tejas has taken over 27 years of development before it obtained its initial operational clearance and the research and development cost of the project has shot up to Rs.17,269 crore from Rs.560 crore allocated in 1983.

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