After having engaged the Army in deployment of pontoons for World Culture Festival on request of the Delhi government, the Defence Ministry is now dealing with the question of ‘who pays for the expenses incurred by the Army’ in cases where assistance is extended to non-government entities such as Art of Living Foundation.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has directed the ministry’s officials to look into procedures that define how organisations can be billed for services extended by the Army, as in this case, said sources.
“Existing guidelines enable state governments to requisition the Army for aid to civil authorities. A request was received from the Delhi government and the Ministry asked the Army to extend help,” said a defence ministry official.
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As per guidelines, under Aid to Civil Authorities, the Army can be requisitioned for five heads —assistance for maintenance of law and order, maintenance of essential services, assistance in natural calamities, development of projects and other type of assistance. The official said in present case, the request was processed under the “other type of assistance” head.
“These regulations, however, do not have any provision for processing the billing in case private organisations such as Art of Living Foundation are involved… In fact, in 1997 too the Army had laid pontoons for Yanni concert on the banks of river Yamuna… Despite such assistance in the past, there has been no mechanism to recover the costs incurred… the same guidelines are being looked into so that in future, the Army does not spend from its own pocket,” added the official.
According to sources, the Army engaged one bridging company — about 120 personnel — from an engineer unit based out of Meerut for the work on the World Culture Festival. “Meerut is the closest from where such equipment could be brought in… so far, the Army has laid two pontoons,” said an official.