Saturday, August 25, 2012

Graft flourishing in defence CSD Stores

Graft flourishing in defence canteen stores: Official Himanshi Dhawan, TNN Aug 21, 2012, 03.15AM IST
NEW DELHI: The defense personnel standing guard at the country's border deserve the best. But not everyone appears to agree. The canteen stores department (CSD) run by the defence ministry could be embroiled in gross irregularities in procurement of material that could compromise the health of the armed forces.
Describing CSD as a "labyrinth of corruption" the controller of defense accounts and integrated financial advisor (principal controller) Savitur Prasad has called the procurement system in CSD as "highly opaque, discretionary and providing a high degree of arbitrariness". Through a series of communications the financial advisor has highlighted that procurement and financial norms are being flouted to provide poor quality products to the armed forces. The letters have been accessed through an RTI in response to an application filed by activist Subhash Agrawal.
CSD is the largest supplier of consumer goods and edible products, notably alcohol, for serving and retired defense personnel and their families across the country. The government purchases Rs 10,000 crore worth of material every year and runs about 3,500 units of canteen stores and shops with various military units attached to CSD.
The communication comes to light at a time when the defense establishment is reeling under the impact of last month's CBI raids at its stores in Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Chandigarh following allegations of irregularities in purchases and distribution.
Prasad in a letter dated May 16 has brought to the attention of the defense ministry, including defense secretary, that of the 600 firms supplying more than 4,000 items to CSD almost 200-300 firms do not have established credentials in the market. The letter lists over 80 companies that are little known in the Indian market but supply their products to the armed forces.
He also points at a system of "introducing" items and then deleting them arbitrarily from the system. In the letter he says, "more number of items have been introduced and deleted than the total number of days available in the last three years." According to the data available, 1,844 items have been introduced in the last three years, while 1,288 have been deleted hinting at irregularities in including and excluding products eligible for procurement arbitrarily.
The letter also indicates that a rule that allows the procurement board to disqualify any firm if it makes sales lower than 2% of its value and volume makes it vulnerable for deletion from the eligible list has been misused.
The executive and financial powers exercised by the CSD unit's general manager in placing orders under the category of special and supplementary orders, "reflects mockery of transparency in procurement process" because the orders are made without approval from financial authorities. This, according to Prasad, is in violation of government orders and guidelines issued by CVC.
Graft flourishing in defence canteen stores: Official

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