Congress leader Anand Sharma has written a letter to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh over the proposed shifting of the Headquarters of Army Training Command from Shimla to Meerut. Sharma has sought Singh's intervention to retain ARTRAC in Shimla.
In his letter on Wednesday, Sharma wrote, "I am writing this to draw your attention to the proposed shifting of the Headquarters of Army Training Command from Shimla to Meerut without any apparent need or jurisdiction. In view of the popular demand and opinion of Senior Army officers including retired Service Chiefs and Strategic Experts, I seek your urgent intervention to retain ARTRAC in Shimla."
Sharma stated that Shimla "has been a strategic location of the Indian Army for almost 150 years and was the headquarters of the then Indian Army during the British period from 1864 to 1939, which included two World Wars in which British Indian Army fought."
"It was categorically stated by all previous Army Commanders, that Shimla was selected as best suitable place for HQ ARTRAC given its unique charter different from all regional commands where officers and soldiers are able to conceptualise the concepts and doctrines in a conducive environment," he stated.
The Congress leader said that the "logic being extended that there is shortage of accommodation at Shimla post merger of DGMT and ARTRAC, lacks substance as adequate infrastructure is available in the adjoining Jutogh Cantonment."
Adding to that, Sharma stated that while "Shimla has further advantage of having its own table top airport and a four lane highway," Meerut, on the other hand, "does not have any infrastructure advantage and has no airport, but is entirely dependent on the Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi which is already under stress due to heavy passenger and cargo traffic."
Sharma said, "Raksha Mantri may also note that there will be huge financial implications for relocation of these big institutions from Shimla to Meerut which will have negative effect on exchequer amounting to hundreds of crores and will not serve any purpose. Also, shift of such a big Army institution out of the state of Himachal Pradesh would adversely affect the economy of Shimla and the State, and loss of employment for the local people."
"Shimla has been a summer capital of the country and the state will lose its pride if the Command Headquarters is shifted out of the state," he added.
Therefore, Sharma has requested Rajnath Singh that the "proposal to shift HQ ARTRAC be cancelled to save unnecessary financial burden, the investments made in the HQ ARTRAC since 1993, to protect the loss of employment for the local people and loss to the state economy.
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