Indian Army not meant to make bridges, clean roads, says Punjab CM
Chandigarh: Objecting to the Indian Army's involvement in civilian projects, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said on Tuesday that the army was not meant to build bridges or clean roads and warned of consequences of the "misuse" of armed forces.
"The Army's job is to train for war and protect the country's borders, not to build bridges and clean roads," Amarinder Singh said in a statement here.
He warned against "serious implications of such misuse of the Indian armed forces by utilising their services for non-emergency civilian jobs".
Earlier in the day, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fernandes said the Army engineers will design and build three overbridges in Mumbai, including the one on the Elphinstone Road, where 23 persons were killed during a stampede on September 29.
The Punjab Chief Minister said the move was "deplorable and an admission of the failure of the government and the Indian Railways".
Amarinder Singh, a former Army Captain, said: "Whatever the urgency of the situation, it does not merit such a decision, which will have an long-term adverse implications as it could encourage civilian authorities to seek Army help for major civilian works every time they find themselves ill-equipped to handle infrastructural or other challenge."
He urged Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman "to refrain from diverting critical defence resources to civilian works", adding it would otherwise set a bad precedent.
"The Army is regularly used to help out in emergency situations such as floods and earthquakes. It is even engaged in infrastructural development in sensitive areas, such as the north-east. If it is now burdened with the additional task of helping out in other civilian tasks, merely because civilian authorities are unable to handle the same, it will further impact its resources," Amarinder Singh said.
"It will also lower the morale of the Army men, who join the force with a vision to secure the country's borders and protect its people from the enemy," he added.
"The Defence Minister -- instead of being a party to this decision and announcing it with such pride -- should have categorically rejected any such suggestion in the interest of the armed forces," the Punjab Chief Minister said.