Welfare measures for armed forces to be fast-tracked: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar

Panaji, Nov 30: Concerned over nearly 450 suicide cases reported in the armed forces in the last three years, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Sunday said reasons for this are being investigated and that welfare measures for personnel will be fast-tracked.

"This is a man management issue which needs to be resolved in different ways, including counselling, quick redressal mechanism and more tribunals to hear the cases," he told reporters here.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar

Welfare measures for the defence personnel will be implemented at a fast pace to ensure that suicides are completely stopped, he said. The Defence Minister said he has asked officials to go into the reasons behind the suicides.

According to official figures, there have been 449 cases of suicides reported in the armed forces since 2011. Isolation and living away from families are among the reasons that spark suicides, he said adding that all welfare measures would be in place in a time-bound manner.

A total of 99 suicide cases have been reported from the armed forces this year alone besides three cases of fratricide. Army reported the highest number suicides with 76 cases this year followed by Air Force with 23. While Army reported two cases of fratricide this year, Air Force witnessed one such incident.

The Army, which the is the largest of the three Services, has topped the list of suicide cases since 2011 though the number has come down. While there were 105 cases of suicides recorded by Army in 2011, it came down to 95 in 2012 and 86 in 2013.

Parrikar had earlier told Parliament that among the reasons for such incidents were "occupational hazards (long tenures of continuous deployment) family issues, domestic problems, marital discord, perceived grievances, personal issues, mental built, financial problems and inability to withstand stress."

Some of the measures taken by the government to prevent such incidents include improvement in living and working conditions, additional family accommodation, liberalised leave policy, provision of psychological counseling and conduct of yoga and meditation as part of unit routine, he said.

The issues like family accommodation for married personnel should be sorted out quickly, he said. "In Goa Naval area, there are 700-800 quarters which are being constructed for married couples. The work is going on at a slow pace. I will be holding review of such projects across the country," Parrikar said.

He said eight minesweeper naval vessels will be built by Goa Shipyard Limited with maximum indigenous technology under the 'Make in India' campaign. "In principle it has been decided that the work for constructing eight minesweepers would be awarded to Goa Shipyard Limited. This would be under 'Make in India' campaign," he said.


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