Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Sunday commended the armed forces for showing utmost restraint in tackling terrorists in Kashmir Valley despite “grave provocation” and stressed on the need to maintain vigil on borders as well as keeping assets in readiness.
In a customary address to the armed forces, the Defence Minister lauded them for the “strong and daring” response to the terrorists attack on the Pathankot air base and for effectively repulsing ceasefire violations as well as infiltration attempts in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Our armed forces have shown utmost restraint in tackling terrorists in Kashmir Valley despite grave provocations,” he said in his address on the All India Radio on the eve of Independence Day.
“You have also effectively repulsed all ceasefire violations in Jammu & Kashmir from across the border and attempts of terrorists to infiltrate into the country with nefarious designs,” he added.
Talking about the Pathankot attack, he said the strong and daring response against terrorists who came fully armed from across the border to attack the the airbase was an inspiration to the nation.
“I commend the efforts put in by our Air Warriors and security forces to thwart this attack. I deeply mourn the martyrdom of seven of our bravehearts who laid down their lives for the cause of the nation in the counter action,” he said.
He stressed on the need to maintain all round vigil on the nation’s borders.
“Therefore, we should keep our assets in readiness and be able to mobilise troops to forward positions at short notice.
“At the same time, there is the need to constantly upgrade and modernise our weapon systems and equipment,” he said.
The Minister asserted that the government has taken many steps to streamline the procurement process and make it faster and transparent.
“I am sure this would help you in getting the best weapons and defence platforms in the shortest time,” he said.
On the missing AN 32 aircraft, he said the next of kin of all crew and passengers are being informed and regular updates on the search operations are being given to them by nominated officials.
“Inputs from all sources are being thoroughly investigated by ships and aircraft, but friends it is very unfortunate that no concrete evidence with respect to missing aircraft has emerged so far,” he said.
He said that the government is making all possible efforts to locate the missing aircraft.
Parrikar pointed out that the government has taken the historic decision to implement One Rank One Pension (OROP) in November last year and fulfilled the long standing demand of the defence personnel benefitting over 20 lakh ex-servicemen pensioners.
“I am happy to inform that Rs. 3819.33 crore have already been distributed to 18,90,635 defence forces pensioners towards OROP arrears/revised pension,” he said.
On health care reforms, Parrikar said the Ministry has completely digitized the Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS).
A total of over 47 lakh beneficiaries have been covered under ECHS.
As of now the scheme is being run through 28 regional centres. A total of 1445 civil hospitals have been empanelled to provide cashless treatment to ECHS beneficiaries.
Parrikar said he has directed the Ministry to complete the Married Accommodation Project (MAP) on priority.
This will provide nearly 2 lakh dwelling units for the married personnel near their places of posting.
The third and final phase of MAP is soon expected to be implemented providing 71,000 more dwelling units, he said.