New Delhi, August 14 : On the eve of India's 62nd Independence Day, Defence Minister A.K. Antony today said that various steps have been taken to modernize the Armed Forces.
He also detailed the various steps being taken to improve the service conditions of the Armed Forces personnel. He praised the Armed Forces for their role in combating militancy in some parts of the country, but asked them to be sensitive to human rights, as it would help in building trust between the forces and the civilian population.
The Sadbhavana programme, he pointed out, merits recognition in ushering development in remote places
"The nation will remain ever indebted to you for the constant vigil you maintain on our borders in remote and extremely inhospitable places," he added.
The Defence Minister praised the milestones achieved by the Navy, like the induction of Landing Platform Dock INS Jalashwa and Landing Ship INS Kesari.
"Thirty-three ships and six submarines are being built in various shipyards that would add muscle to the Indian Navy," Antony said and added that the Navy is also expected to get its second aircraft carrier INS Vikramidtya by 2012.
He further added, "The first batch of MiG-29K fighter jet to be based on the carrier is expected to arrive shortly. Moreover, a proposal for acquisition of a Long Range Maritime Surveillance Aircraft for the Navy would soon be finalized."
Antony proudly pointed out, "Many warships are now being equipped with the anti-ship supersonic cruise missile Brahmos."
"A naval academy with contemporary facilities would be commissioned at Ezhimala next year," Antony said and added that the Navy has also undertaken a comprehensive network centric process.
While referring to the induction of the Advanced Jet Trainer Hawk this year for fighter pilots Antony said that the Air Force is being laced with the most modern aircraft and weapon systems.
The Defence Minister further said that the government is making all efforts to promote the welfare of security personnel. He also pointed out that the government has scrapped the individual's contribution towards Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) being run for ex-servicemen, war-widows and soldiers disabled in action.
He said, "We have recently taken a decision to formulate a long-term national policy on Ex-servicemen in consultation with all stakeholders." Antony also said that funds have been earmarked for setting up at least six schools every year for the children of security personnel.
While addressing the problem of accommodation for the armed forces personnel the Defence Minister said, "A decision has been taken to construct around 1,75,000 houses in four phases under the Married Accommodation Project (MAP)."
"In the first phase around 50,000 houses are being constructed in 86 cities which are expected to be completed next year. In addition, we have also approved phase II of the project for construction of 67,000 dwelling units at the cost of Rs. 9,400 crores," Antony added.