PAC questions service chiefs

PAC questions service chiefs

Why are unit-run canteens kept out of CAG audit, asks panel chief MM Joshi

PAC questions service chiefs

Army chief V K Singh and Indian Air Force chief P V Naik deposed before the PAC headed by BJP veteran Murli Manohar Joshi. The Navy was represented by vice chief D K Dewan as navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma is away in Indonesia on an official tour.

“The chiefs gave their views on both reports. We have sought further clarifications from them and decide on the future course of action after receiving their inputs,” Joshi said.
“Chiefs were called because they set the rules and everybody else follow. It’s better to talk to those who made these rules. They understood PAC has the right to call anybody,” he said.

Deposition

Usually when service-related matters are examined by the PAC, the services are represented by respective vice chiefs and quarter-master generals. The chiefs made a deposition after the PAC insisted on their presence.

While Singh alone gave his deposition in the morning on the dry ration issues, he was joined by Naik and Dewan in the afternoon while presenting their case on the URC before the PAC.

The PAC is examining two 2010 reports of the CAG in which the auditing watchdog flagged Army’s refusal to allow them audit the URCs arguing they are part of the regiment and hence out of bounds for the CAG.

“Every area utilising resources from the consolidated fund of India should be audited and the audit reports be placed in Parliament,” Joshi said, refusing to disclose anything on the proceedings and how long it would take for the PAC to complete its probe.

Abuse of the Army Canteen and Stores Department, particularly for liquor, is a perpetual complaint for years. Even though the Army headquarters has taken certain steps to prevent the abuse, nothing has changed on the ground level.

The CAG also highlighted the poor quality of ration given to soldiers, which is now being looked at by the PAC. Irregularities were found in every stage of procurement process. Rations which include rice, wheat, sugar, edible oil, pulses and tinned food were stored for months after its expiry. The mismatch between demand and procurement is so serious that CAG said either the soldiers are underfed or the Army has a secret stock.

The report hinted at having cartels in the purchase of fresh rations. For instance, in Delhi, one vendor supplied meat worth Rs 5 crore every year in the last three years. Similarly in Chandimandir, only one contractor bagged the contract for supply of meat worth Rs 2.34 crore. 

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