Monday, June 4, 2012

Curbs on military canteen booze flow

Curbs on military canteen booze flow
Rajat Pandit, TNN Mar 21, 2012, 01.50AM IST

The move comes in the backdrop of CAG reports and parliamentary committees criticizing the widespread irregularities in the working of the 35 CSD ( canteen stores department) depots, which have a retail network of 3,600 URCs (unit-run canteens) and a turnover of over Rs 8,500 crore.
The new measures include restricting the number of Scotch bottles an officer can draw to 50% of his monthly liquor quota. Major-generals and lieutenant generals will get only seven to eight Scotch bottles in their existing monthly quota of 14-16 bottles.
Similarly, colonels and below will get five to six Scotch bottles in their 10-12 bottle quota. Field Marshals and equivalents and serving and retired Service chiefs, of course, can draw all the liquor they want since they have "no limit".
More importantly, there is a move to "limit" the liquor quota under the "bronze cards" that are used by URCs and others for bulk purchases. "This is the main source of misuse. If the ceiling limit in a bronze card was earlier 10,000 bottles a month, it will be brought down to 1,000," said the source.
Several cases of widespread diversion of the much-cheaper military quota liquor secretly reaching the open market have come to the fore, leading to the court-martial of several senior officers, including a major-general, in recent years.
A performance audit of CSD by CAG had also found that several units were drawing liquor far in excess of what was authorized based on the number of soldiers and ex-servicemen connected with those units.
There is also the move to restrict the sale of cars through CSD, which are about 10%-15% cheaper than market prices. "I recently bought a Honda City through CSD since it cost Rs 1.25 lakh less," said an officer.
If earlier an officer could buy a car through CSD every two years, the new policy restricts it to once in five years. Similarly, JCOs (junior commissioned officers) will be able to buy a car once every 10 years that earlier could be done every five years.
Curbs on military canteen booze flow
Unit Run Canteens management will ensure attractive items are sold only toauthorised personnel as on required basis on not in excess quantity. Strict watch bemaintained where there is large difference in CSD and market rates such as suitcases,watches, pressure cookers, fans and other attractive toiletry and cosmetic items. Profile of customers be strictly watched for spending beyond means.
Monetary limit for all ranks- Purchase of CSD items
Comment: This is a welcome measure. There is gross misuse of CSD facility and the items find its way into the civilian market. Liquor is being openly sold in metro cities. Culprits make around Rs 5000/- (families too get involved in the racket) and more a month profit on one individual canteen card. Liquor is traded and bartared for services. Officers serving and retired must set an example. "Just buy quantum of liquor/ grocery one consumes" only must be the mantra. All Officers who draw their full quota in one go need to be monitored as it is certain that they are selling or bartaring the liquor. Once Officers set an example than JCO's and Jawans will follow the good example. Military personnel and families who have multiple canteen cards and posted in the same station are more prone to misuse the facility. Chennai and Punjab leads in misuse of canteen facilities. Ingenious methods have been evolved to cheat the system. Items are openly traded in civilian shops... and liquor more clandestinely and surreptiously smuggled. In the digital era software can be designed to give the correct picture of those who misuse canteen facility and warnings issued to the offenders electronically with the usage of smart card. This automation will deter offenders from malpractise (no email id no smart card- initially this can be done for Officers and then extended to JCOs and Jawans)). It is important to embed email of all users in the smart card. Once this is done be rest assured that the misuse will reduce tenfold and will vanish in year or so.

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