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SOURCE: THE WEEK

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government has allocated an additional budget of Rs 8,500 crore to the Indian Army to deal with Chinese aggression in Eastern Ladakh sector. With no sign of disengagement, the Indian Army has prepared itself for the long haul on the icy heights of the Himalayan frontiers, where temperatures dip to minus 40 degree Celsius.

General Manoj Mukund Naravane on Tuesday made it clear that the Army is prepared to hold its ground along the Line of Actual Control?the de facto border with China?as long as it takes to achieve national objective. The Army has deployed over 50,000 troops in Eastern Ladakh in retaliation to the Chinese military’s unprecedented mobilisation and forward concentration by its troops on multiple locations along the Eastern Ladakh sector.

Additional allocation of budget came in the revised estimate (RE Budget) category. While Rs 6,000 crore has been given under the revenue allocation to meet the day-to-day needs of deployed troops, Rs 2,500 crore is being given for modernisation under the capital allocation category, according to a top source based in the South Block.

Ever since tensions erupted in May last year, the government has been supportive, conveying to the forces repeatedly that there will be no shortage for funds to deal with any misadventure by Chinese troops. And to meet the deficiencies in its armoury, the Army has been on fast-track mode for procuring varied material, especially assorted ammunition, missiles and ordnance. The Army has maintained that its 85 per cent of its procurement were done through Indian companies.

To keep a soldier deployed on the heights, winter clothing, tents, heating appliances, ration are among the material that aresent to forward locations. There are about 80 items stocked for soldiers, including vast amounts of kerosene, diesel and petrol, which provide heat and fuel vehicles.

The Army spends an estimated Rs 15 lakh a year to keep a soldier on heights ranging from 15,000ft to 18,000ft. The cost excludes weapon and ammunition, information on which is classified.

Military observers believe that massive deployment, up to three division-level strength on those heights through the winter, is incurring a huge cost. And if the situation does not improve, it will continue into the next year.

“It means, large scale deployment on the LAC will be a ‘new normal’ with the existing trust deficit between the two military,” said an official.

It is notable that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army is learnt to have withdrawal close to 10,000 troops from the Tibet region, close to the Indian territory in Ladakh due to extreme weather conditions in the sector and difficulties in maintaining them at those high-altitude region.