New Delhi: After two years, a legal notice and multiple rounds of deliberations, the Rajnath Singh-led Ministry of Defence Tuesday restored the ‘ration in kind’ provision for officers of the armed forces posted in peace areas.
The provision was withdrawn two years ago. In July 2017, the first Narendra Modi government stopped the ration facility for military officers posted in non-conflict areas and replaced it with a daily cash allowance of Rs 96. The provision had, however, continued for officers posted in field areas.
Sources in the ministry told ThePrint that while the decision to withdraw the provision was taken on the recommendation of the seventh pay commission, the government later realised it was of little financial benefit.
“Fetching ration on cash allowances was cumbersome for the officers of armed forces who stay in secluded cantonments. It was not of much financial benefit to the government also,” a source in the ministry said.
“There were multiple meetings and deliberations held on the matter in the last few months. The armed forces, the ministry and the defence minister had put a lot of efforts to ensure this is done at the earliest,” the source added.
‘Daily cash allowance was too less’
After the provision was withdrawn, most officers had argued that a daily cash allowance of Rs 96 is too little for even one person.
“Even the per day allowance of a jail inmate is Rs 137. So were we worse than them?” an army officer asked.
Colonel Mukul Dev had even served a legal notice in 2017 to defence secretary Sanjay Mitra over scrapping of the provision.
The army officer quoted above told ThePrint that withdrawal of the provision was pushed by the bureaucracy without putting much thought into the matter. “The matter was pushed through various forums, but there was a lot of resistance from the Army against the cash allowance,” he said.
“Many officers posted in peace stations live in secluded cantonments where entry of civilian vendors is restricted. In such situations, officers would have to hire a help just to fetch rations.”
Another army officer told ThePrint the decision to restore the provision is welcome as it would provide a big relief to the thousands of officers posted in peace areas.
“The armed forces are always alert and ready to go for operations even when posted in peace areas,” the officer said. “An officer might be posted in a peace station but may have to go to any conflict area on a call (and stay there) for months. What would happen to their ration then?” the officer asked.
The army has about 15,000 officers posted in peace locations. The entitled daily ration includes fixed quantity of fruits, vegetables, milk, eggs, wheat, meat and LPG. Rations are divided into two categories — dry and fresh. Dry ration includes pulses, rice, flour, and are normally issued once in 15 days. Fresh ration includes milk, vegetables, fruits, meat etc. that are issued thrice a week.