Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Senior Generals in the Corruption Brew

Audit exposes Rs 100 cr row in Army
Grappling with scams over the last few years, the Army is now faced with another controversy involving its top commanders allegedly involved in financial mismanagement while procuring critical items like bullet proof jackets, satellite phones and other operational equipment leading to losses of over Rs 100 crore in two years.
This fact came out in the internal audit carried out by the Defence Ministry which said scrutiny of 55 items procured indicated that basic procedure of purchasing item from original equipment manufacturer was not followed and the credentials of the contracted supplier was doubtful leading to possible security risk.
The audit report on “Exercise of delegated financial powers of Army Commanders” carried out in Northern and Eastern Command for the years 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 pointed out some operational items were possibly bought from the gray market. Moreover, in most of the cases delivery schedule was not adhered to and the Army did not levy penalty for late delivery, the 115-page report said.
The Government has sanctioned Rs 125 crore to Northern Army Commander, Rs 25 crore to Eastern Army chief and Rs 10 crore each to other four Army Commanders to buy operational equipment in case of any emergency so as to cut out delay in procurement.
However, delay in delivery of most of the items defeated the very purpose for which special funds were granted to the Army Commanders, the report said, adding the Commanders who are senior functionaries should not be burdened with the procurement functions.
The report said the loss to the exchequer due to mismanagement amounted to Rs 103.11 crore while procuring items like battlefield mine carrying package, all terrain vehicle, hand held radio sets, spares for bulldozers, avalanche rescue equipment, snow mobiles, mobile EPABX, avalanche air bag, avalanche victim detector, combat free fall parachutes, GPS, three ton trucks and diesel generator sets.
The report also questioned the loss of more than Rs 30 crore worth of milk procured for troops in the Northern Command and said the mismanagement led to wasteful expenditure. The report said while some commands and units had excess milk supply, some other units and commands did not have adequate milk supply.
Expressing concern over these losses, the audit suggested steps like procurement from centralised depots to cut down lengthy supply chain, procurement only from authorised vendors, stores to be bought for a period of three months and not more and introduction of checks and balances in commands.
Incidentally, the audit had conducted similar internal review of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and procurement of food for its troops by the Army. Following these audits, Defence Minister AK Antony last month asked all the departments of the Defence Ministry including the three Services to appoint financial advisors to oversee major procurements and prevent any legal bungling and mismanagement.
Audit exposes Rs 100 cr row in Army
Comment: The Local Purchase Powers of Formation Commanders need to be completely curbed or eliminated. The national Security is at stake when sub- standard and spurious stuff is palmed on to fighting troops. The paper work is so perfect it is difficult to catch the culprits. Remember all Generals are 9 pointers for honesty- the reason for this is because of the skewed ACR system in vogue. When dishonesty takes over the system there is no remedy!

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