NEW DELHI: Armed forces personnel can look forward to contemporary and sustainable living and work spaces with green building standards, including energy efficiency, water conservation and handling waste, improved structural design, maintenance and fire safety, smart metering and multi-level parking; with defence minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday approving the much-needed revised “scales of accommodation 2022” for the defence services.
“This will ensure contemporary specifications in future projects and better standards of living for the personnel of the armed forces. The revision of scales of accommodation (SoA) will enhance infrastructure development, enable usage of modern technology, give more flexibility and cater for users’ aspirations,” the defence ministry said.
The previous SoA was approved by the government in October 2009. SoA defines the authorisation for construction facilities for operational, functional, training, administrative, living and recreation facilities for the defence services.
The major changes in SoA will for the first time include car garages for 75% of junior commissioned officers (JCOs) and 50% of other ranks (ORs). So far, only officers were authorised car garages, while JCOs and ORs were entitled only to scooter garages, officials said. Another change is 10% increase in plinth area of single accommodation for officers, JCOs and ORs, they added.
There was an urgent need for revision of SoA with the induction of new units, technological facilities and equipment profile, requirements of operational readiness, increased threat perception, concept of sustainable development including contemporary industry standards and enhanced aspirations of users for improved living standards, defence ministry officials said.
“The revision was long overdue. The new guidelines on SoA run into hundreds of pages. They cover everything from residential buildings, offices and schools to weapon holding structures, underground facilities and infrastructure in forward areas,” said a senior official, asking not to be named.
The revision of SoA is in line with the government’s programmes like Swachh Bharat, Sugamya Bharat and Digital India as well as the green building movement and initiatives for sustainable development, renewable energy and reduction of carbon footprint, the defence ministry said.
“Optimisation of defence land usage by using multi-storeyed construction and austerity measures by combining of common facilities has been emphasised. Amenities in all public buildings for persons with disabilities have been introduced and gender commonality in all specifications has been ensured,” it said.
The government’s Military Engineer Services (MES) is responsible for providing infrastructure to the defence services, and is an important part of the Corps of Engineers. Singh asked MES to continue its contribution towards nation building by providing better infrastructure services to the armed forces.
The construction and maintenance agency of the armed forces has an annual budget of around ₹13,000 crore.
Two years ago, the defence minister announced the abolition of over 9,300 posts in MES. The abolition of the posts was one of the outcomes of the recommendations made by the Lieutenant General DB Shekatkar committee report on enhancing the army’s combat potential and trimming its expenditure.