New Delhi: Nearly 20,000 military personnel have been infected with the novel coronavirus, with the highest being in the Army that has reported over 16,000 cases.
Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik, who himself tested positive in August, told the Rajya Sabha Wednesday in a written reply that 32 soldiers in the Army died due to Covid-19, while the number stood at three for the Indian Air Force and zero for the Navy.
Giving details of the total number of cases, the minister said 16,758 cases in the Army, 1,365 in the Navy and 1,716 in the Air Force has been reported.
He added that according to the existing rules, there is no compensation for deaths occurring due to infectious diseases while in service.
“However, all deaths while in service are awarded terminal benefits,” he said.
Covid a major concern
The coronavirus has been a major concern in the armed forces, resulting in a number of measures being taken to contain the spread of the virus.
It was on 18 March that the Army reported its first Covid case — a 34-year-old jawan in Leh whose father had travelled to Iran.
In May, at least 20 serving jawans were among the 24 people who tested positive at the Army’s premier Research and Referral Hospital in Delhi.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who gave a statement in Lok Sabha Tuesday on the situation in Ladakh, mentioned Covid-19 as a challenge while talking about deployment of the forces.
“This rapid deployment by our armed forces, including ITBP (Indo Tibetan Border Police), has taken place in a challenging time of Covid-19,” he had said.
MoD spent Rs 31,747.06 cr on modernisation
In a separate reply, Naik said that a total of Rs 31,747.06 crore has been spent on modernisation of the armed forces this fiscal until 31 July as against a sanctioned capital budget of Rs 90,047.80 crore.
Giving details, he said that during the current financial year 2020-21 (until July), 10 contracts have been signed with Indian vendors and six with foreign vendors for capital procurement of defence equipment for armed forces.
ThePrint had reported in July that the armed forces are currently working on over 100 emergency procurement contracts — with a ceiling of Rs 500 crore each — in the wake of tensions with China along the Line of Actual Control.
Government sources had then said that there will be no shortage of funds for the armed forces, and any additional funds that may be needed will be provided.
A source had said that if the budget is not adequate for making other payments under the normal procurement process, a request for additional funds will be made to the finance ministry around September.