Wed, Aug 4 04:49 AM
The Indian Army soldiers posted at some of the most difficult locations in the world along the China and Pakistan border are getting food that is unfit for human consumption and at times is more than two years beyond the expiry date, a latest government report on supply of rations in the armed forces has revealed.
The audit report says the Army has violated its own norms and has been supplying troops with food items, including rice, sugar and wheat, which are way past their expiry date. Most of the cases, the report reveals, pertain to the Northern Command, the largest Army formation in the country that has troops along the Pakistan and China border as well as the Siachen glacier.
"It was found that atta, sugar, rice, tea, dal, edible oil and raisins were consumed six to 28 months after the expiry of their normal storage life," the report says, adding that the food items were given illegal life extensions by a Jammu-based lab that were against the standing rules of the Army.
While soldiers have been complaining about the bad quality of food served at forward locations, this is the first official report of a large-scale violation of norms across the Northern Command.
The report also suggests a large-scale rigging of prices by revealing that 36 per cent of cases of procurement of fresh rations were based only on single quotations, taking away any scope of competitiveness. Not only that, raising suspicions of corruption, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report has found that rations worth almost Rs 2 crore, meant for soldiers in high altitude areas, remain untraceable in the Northern Command. A majority of these rations, the report says, were issued during 2005-06, during which former Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor was heading the Northern Command.
The report also quotes an internal Army study that reveals only one per cent of soldiers in units across the country find the quality of rations they receive as excellent. A majority of the jawans have graded their rations as satisfactory or below.
While the armed forces have been trying to improve rations, the damning report has come as a shocker. The ministry is currently working on a long term plan to improve the quality of food as well as storage locations and is likely to come up with a new set of regulations soon.
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