Antony favours more welfare for armed forces personnel

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Kozhikode, Nov 23 (UNI) Stating that vital security of the nation is safe in the hands of armed forces personnel guarding the borders, Defence Minister A K Antony today urged state governments to initiate more measures for their welfare.

''Extra care should be given'' for the sacrifices made by men guarding the borders enduring hostile climatic conditions and several other odds, he said addressing a huge gathering of war veterans and ex-servicemen organised as part of the 'Army Mela-2008' here.

A little efforts by governments could ameliorate the problems of soldiers serving forward positions, including Siachen, the highest battlefield in the world.

Not only the governments, local body heads, district collectors and police officers could also look into the problems being faced by the service personnel. Such efforts would provide them peace to discharge their duty efficiently, Mr Antony said.

He said the Union Government had initiated various measures, including constitution of a special committee to study the anamolies in their pay structure as recommended by the Sixth Pay Commission and increasing quota for married accommodation to the personnel.

As part of the proposal, work is on to construct 57,000 new dwelling units at various parts of the country and 90 per cent of them would be completed by March next year.

Blueprint for construction of another 66,000 dwelling units at an estimated cost of Rs 10,000 crore in the second phase had been prepared and further action would be initiated soon, he said.

Mr Antony said the government was in the process of constituting a national commission for ex-servicemen to study and recommend measures to alleviate their problems.

He said the government was also planning to increase ration quota of the personnel from next year.

Later talking to newspersons, he said the government would continue to procure sophisticated and best available arms and equipment for the armed forces.

''We will not lag behind anybody as far as modernisation is concerned,'' to enable the forces to face any eventuality, he said, adding that it should not be mistaken for frightening neighbouring countries.

Expressing satisifaction over the large turnout at the Army Mela, he said the government was prepared to conduct similar programmes in other district as well.

Mr Antony also handed over keys of scooters to 18 disabled personnel at the function.

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