Defence minister Manohar Parrikar today called for concerted efforts to maximise indigenous supply of arms and ammunition to the armed forces so as to eventually achieve "self dependence" in defence production.
India, he said, spends an average Rs3,00,000 crore every year on importing equipment to defend its borders. This cannot go on indefinitely and needs to change, the defence minister said while addressing a gathering the 'Engineers' Conclave' jointly organised by the National Academy of Engineering and Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Mumbai.
"When we talk about security, whether its energy, food or even the security of borders, I think self dependence is very important. We require some critical equipment for the purpose of defending our country.
"My worry is that after spending such a huge amount, Rs2,50,000 crore to Rs3,00,000 crore every year on defence...we are spending this money every year, year after year for a one time eventuality and I hope that it doesn't come," Parrikar said.
"In case it comes true, just maybe, then we have to depend on other countries for supply of arms and ammunition... Security does have to take into consideration the dependence on foreign powers for supply of ammunition. Therefore use of indigenous efforts is a very important aspect," he said.
Parrikar's comments come after the government committed another Rs8,000-10,000 crore annual spend on the one rank one pension (OROP) scheme for defence personnel announced on Saturday.
He said the final order explaining the details, including the rule of minimum service requirement for defence personnel, under the one rank one pension (OROP) scheme will be issued soon.
"Those who have retired with the proper procedure will not be impacted. Wait for the wordings. Why is there so much excitement till then?" Parrikar said on the sidelines of the engineers' conclave.
"Even the PM has made it amply clear that those getting retired prematurely will be entitled to OROP benefits," he said.
Making it clear that the voluntary retirement scheme for the armed forces is very different from that for civilians, Parrikar said, "There is no concept of normal VRS in the armed forces, so even if they apply they can be refused. But if someone applies for health reasons or injuries, the armed forces would want to grant premature retirement."
Parrikar added, "If it (premature retirement) happens before the needed time, then they don't get it. We will explain it."
The government on Saturday announced that the OROP scheme will be implemented from 1 July 2014 and that the arrears alone would involve additional burden of anywhere between Rs10,000 and Rs12,000 crore on the exchequer.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi clarified at a rally in Faridabad that OROP benefits will also be extended to former servicemen who have opted for premature retirement. In the armed forces, Non Commissioned Officers (NCO) who have reached a pensionable limit of 15 years and officers who have completed 20 years can opt for premature retirement.
Veterans protesting at Jantar Mantar called off their indefinite hunger strike after the PM's assurance, but said protests would continue until all the contentious issues were resolved.