EXCLUSIVE: After delayed dues & outdated weapons, govt denies roof to 60 per cent of men in uniform


Rajendra Nagar 1 & 2 in Delhi's Palam village are locations where we met plenty of JCOs (equivalent and above) living by often paying rent which exceeds the HRA they get.
Rajendra Nagar 1 & 2 in Delhi’s Palam village are locations where we met plenty of JCOs (equivalent and above) living by often paying rent which exceeds the HRA they get

Beyond the tributes paid on fourteenth anniversary of the Kargil war, an investigation into the basic issue of housing for married armed forces personnel has revealed the unpleasant face of our administration, especially it’s indifference towards the men in uniform. So grave is the crisis that nearly 60 per cent of those entitled an official residence, to be provided by the government, are living on rent on the fringes cities in filthy, semi-slum like private colonies.

This issue was touched upon when following the Kargil episode, in 2001, then Prime Minister AB Vajpayee ordered that 100 per cent availability as per scale be made available to those entitled. Action followed and in May 2002, the organisation of Married Accommodation Project (MAP) was set up, headed by a Director General (DG). However, details accessed by this correspondent, using the Right To Information Act 2005 show little has been achieved. So dismal is that the state that none of the forces were unable to even provide an estimate as to by when cent percent accommodation would be achieved.

The Indian Navy’s staff which is authorised for official married accommodation is 7471 officers and 29905 men of which, as on date only 4421 officers and 16598 men have received the same. Since 2000, barely 2000 homes for officers and 2180 for men have been made with a further 2092 and 9991 Dwelling Units (DUs) being planned for officers and men. Similarly while the Indian Air Force (IAF), where the sanctioned number of personnel for married accommodation are 98944 where as the deficiency is of 48985 DUs, a whopping 49 per cent. Currently, while 7041 DUs are being built and a further 28144 DUs being planned. The Indian Coast Guard (ICG), a smaller force, where the requirement is of 1457 DUs for officers and 6463 DUs for men, what are available are 418 DUs for officers and 1580 DUs for men. The Indian Army was unable to provide its data. However, it forwarded a note from the DG MAP office which said that out of the 198881 DUs planned, they have been able to complete and deliver a little over 1/4th at 56833 DUs with the rest either in progress or yet to take off.

ACCO

In Delhi’s general pool, which keeps a tab on accommodation to officers, while the requirement is of around 4800 DUs, what they have are merely 3120 DUs, thereby a deficit of around 1700 DUs.

When combined, out of a hundred, merely 41 men are getting their married accommodation from the government, forcing the rest to find what they can, on their own. This has many in the armed forces worried. Said a Delhi-based Brigadier-rank officer, “Every week men come, complaining of the trouble they or their families face in these localities. These people were promised much better and are now forced to come to terms.” Another officer said, “The nation wants the best out of these men but is not prepared to give them what is due and promised.”

When asked, Defence Minister AK Antony said he was aware of this matter. “In the times to come, lakhs of newly-built DUs are getting ready. We are sensitive to our men. More measures for welfare are being undertaken than ever done in the past,” he added.

Former chiefs however do not concur. Said Admiral (retd) Arun Prakash, “Individual officers and organisations may have justification but not the defence minister, who is India’s longest-serving defence minister. He should have cracked the whip and got people to deliver.” Air Chief Marshal (retd) PV Naik added, “This is an issue which has faced neglect in our system. And we have very late in the day begun rectifying it. Needless to say we are going to take time.”
Rented accommodation for serving personnel

In Delhi’s Palam village, Rajendra Nagar 1 and 2 are famous locations not for anything else but because of the number of serving personnel residing there. A typical colony where civic amenities are barely there, the locals complained about the state of roads and drains while we were there.While most naturally belong to IAF, men from the navy and army too stay there. Most families visited were not keen to speak, as service rules deny them this right but the signs of stress were evident. “We miss the sense of security, safety as well as our facilities when we live here,” said a housewife who has lived on rent for the last two and half years and will soon be posted out, without getting an official quarter. “Yes we get House Rent Allowance (HRA) but it is often not enough and we pay from our pocket. Plus travelling to our base is a problem from these areas. There are advantages and disadvantages of not getting the accommodation but the latter outweighs the former, any day,” said a serving Junior Warrant Officer (JWO) of the IAF.”Unmarried accommodation

In the armed forces, providing accommodation to unmarried personnel is an easier task. In land-based formations, unmarried personnel share rooms or are provided dormitories. In ships, whether docked or not, unmarried personnel are provided with beds and lockers to keep their belongings in.

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10 thoughts on “EXCLUSIVE: After delayed dues & outdated weapons, govt denies roof to 60 per cent of men in uniform”

  1. Total indifference/insensitivity by all concerned with virtual zero accountability is the root cause this situation,it will continue in same manner unless accountability at all levels starting from Top down is acted upon!

  2. The problem of married accomodation has been endemic since partition and remains so. The reason for this is very simple. The Armed Forces create/raise/ induct new entities as per percieved strategic and operational requirements. However they do so under a somewhat archiac and distraught factor of not exceeding the glass cieling of the authorised strength. Hence any facilities required by newly created entities have to be culled from what is available. This results in an endless chase to catch up and the gap keeps increasing. A small example at independance we had 12 Armoured Regiments and no mechanized battalions. Today we have 60+ of the former and 30+ of the latter. The cantonments housing these have remained more or less at the same administrative state as in ’47. Ok marginally improved…. Otherwise why should a married officer have to wait 6-9 months to get a permanent accomodation or Why should an Other Rank be “ALLOWED” to keep his family, in a peace station, in Govt accomodation for 1 year only, so as to give everyone a chance and pass it off as a Welfare Measure!!!!!!!!!!. I rest my case.

  3. Disband the Defence Services if the country cannot afford them but donot treat them as beggers for they sacrifice their today for our tommorrow.

  4. When soldiers, sailors and airmen enroll, they agree to forego some fundamental rights such as the right of free expression and the right to form unions, strike work and so on. They do so in the belief that the State will obviate the need for them to ever exercise such rights. Thus, it is a contract of sorts between the armed forces and the State.
    The armed forces have stuck to their side of the contract, but the State has failed, time and again, to stick to its side of the contract.
    Clearly, we need a constitutional body that is charged, exclusively, with the task of ensuring that the State fulfills its contractual obligation to the armed forces. This calls for politico-constitutional innovation.
    Are we, as a nation, up to it? That is the question.

    Colonel Ravindra Joshi (Retd.)

  5. COMMENT ON MAIL:
    You have written about a very relevant issue that can have serious implications if not sorted out in time. It is far more important than the lip service given to the soldier by celebrating martyr days or making war memorials.

    Some of the issues that you may like to delve into if you really care are,

    a) The quality of accommodation offered despite spending astronomical sums on constructing and maintaining it. Try having a look at some of the Jawan’s entitled accommodation.

    b) The whole concept of entitled married accommodation. Think about it, a married officer or jawan gets to stay in a proper house but his unmarried counterpart is banished to a small room, often shared with someone, in the mess or the barracks, with all the associated restrictions. So is the entitlement as per the person’s rank and seniority or his marital status? If the later, as the rules seem to imply, it smacks of blatant discrimination on marital grounds! Wonder if any other Central Govt service has such rules!

    c) If you take in the above factor into consideration you figures may look even more interesting!

  6. COMMENT ON MAIL:

    The problem of married accomodation has been endemic since partition and remains so. The reason for this is very simple. The Armed Forces create/raise/ induct new entities as per percieved strategic and operational requirements. However they do so under a somewhat archiac and distraught factor of not exceeding the glass cieling of the authorised strength. Hence any facilities required by newly created entities have to be culled from what is available. This results in an endless chase to catch up and the gap keeps increasing. A small example at independance we had 12 Armoured Regiments and no mechanized battalions. Today we have 60+ of the former and 30+ of the latter. The cantonments housing these have remained more or less at the same administrative state as in ’47. Ok marginally improved…. Otherwise why should a married officer have to wait 6-9 months to get a permanent accomodation or Why should an Other Rank be “ALLOWED” to keep his family, in a peace station, in Govt accomodation for 1 year only, so as to give everyone a chance and pass it off as a Welfare Measure!!!!!!!!!!. I rest my case.

  7. COMMENT ON MAIL:

    Thank you for taking up,the cause of veterans. You have offered to take up similar other issues.
    There are number of widows who are coming from humble background and mostly staying in rural areas. Amongst them there are many who are entitled for Special Family Pension (SPF) or War Injury Pension(WIP)(BC) and are denied the same for some reason or the other. There is no communication to them either from ZSWO or concerned Regimental Centres or Service HQ conveying their correct payable pension.They have to fend for themselves. Even widows of officers are no exception to this apathy.
    The performance of branches of Nationalised Banks is much to be desired having no expertise at all and their CPPCs are not yet properly established. There is no proactive action on the part of branches to make sure that at least widows of veterans do get correct pension as per rules.
    Widows as it is are not treated with due respect by the Society and even her relatives and over and above this neglect by Banks.
    You have this topic to research on in respect of most neglected part of veterans.

  8. This is a factually correct article. What Anil Kaul has said is also the absolute truth. Even today in some stations JCO’s Quarters have been converted into temporary Officers’ accomodation. In Delhi one Major’s accomodation has been converted into two portions( Shankar Vihar ). Life for JCOs and other ranks is just miserable. I am afraid the Defence Minister has a lot to answer for.

  9. On your question of looking after widows & ESM, in my opinion, we need firstly an “ARMED FORCES COMMISSION” a constitutional body much like the EC/minorities/etc, however staffed from top to bottom by ESM on a tenure basis. The MoD & service HQ should be made answerable to them. Secondly, the Dept of ESW in MoD needs to be revamped totally. How can you deal with Welfare when there is no representations of the stake holders in this case.Thirdly, there is a need for a seperate ministry of veteran affairs that will bring under its ambit all such organizations at the centre and the states, viz ECHS/AGIF (NAVY & AF VARIANTS), DGR, KSB, ZSB’S, with full administrative & fiscal control. fourthly, a seperate Pay commission for the armed forces to ensure that their pay & allwces are not waylaid & hijacked by the beaurecrats as has been happening for the last 64 years.Fifthly a change of the present command and control of the three services to an Integrated theatre command model.& finally the serving soldiers/sailors & airmen must be registered as voters in their place of posting. These measures can bring about the change that we all want and dream off.

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