Army Chief appears before PAC

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New Delhi, Jan 11 (PTI) In a first instance of itskind, Army Chief V K Singh today appeared before Parliament''sPublic Accounts Committee (PAC) in connection with allegedirregularities in the canteen stores supplies.

The PAC had called the chiefs of the three defenceservices for a hearing after a CAG report pointed outirregularities in the supply chain management of rations byCanteen Stores Department (CSD).

Singh appeared before the PAC headed by senior BJPleader Murli Manohar Joshi at around 11 AM and senior Armyofficials made a presentation of management of rations in theArmy.

Air Chief P V Naik is likely to appear before theCommittee later in the day. The Navy would be represented byVice Chief D K Deewan, as Navy chief Nirmal Verma is inIndonesia on a "pre-scheduled" four-day visit which began onSunday.

The armed forces have decided to stick to their standthat their unit-run canteens (URC) are beyond the purview ofthe PAC.

"We still maintain that URC is beyond their purview.

That is the basic issue on which I presume the hearing orquestioning will take place. We have given our replies to themand let us see how it goes," Naik had said earlier.

The Defence Ministry, which received thecommunication, advised the service chiefs to appear before thePAC apparently to underline the committee''s immensesignificance at a time when the government is seeking toproject it as a body as important as the Joint ParliamentaryCommittee following Opposition demand for JPC into 2G spectrumissue.

Usually the Defence Secretary attends meetings of theParliamentary Committees along with Vice Chiefs of theServices.

Highlighting the irregularities in the Canteen StoresDepartment, the CAG had said, "The existing procedure forprovisioning of dry rations failed to assess the requirementrealistically. The failure was mainly due to systemicdeficiencies due to which different quantities were worked outat different echelons applying different parameters...."

The report had said that the risk of existence of"cartels" affecting the quantity and quality of rations wastoo serious to be ignored.

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