Army, Air Chiefs before PAC; promise overhaul of ration system

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New Delhi, Jan 12 (PTI) In an unprecedented development,the Chiefs of Army and Air Force today appeared before theParliament''s Public Accounts Committee in connection withalleged irregularities in ration supplies and were told tooverhaul the system which was promised within six months.

Army Chief Gen V K Singh, Air Chief Marshal P V Naik andNaval Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma had been called by the PAC onthe basis of alleged irregularities highlighted by two CAGreports.

While Singh and Naik appeared before the Committee, Vermawas away on an official foreign trip and was represented byVice Chief Vice Admiral D K Deewan.

The Army Chief first appeared individually in connectionwith the alleged irregularities in distribution of dry rationand then, in the afternoon, he came before the Committee againalong with Naik and Deewan in connection with irregularitiesin the Canteen and Stores Department (CSD).

The PAC was promised that a mechanism to overhaul the dryration supply chain would be prepared in three months andimplemented across the country in another three months,sources told PTI.

There could be another hearing in the matter when theChiefs may be called again.

This was the first time when the Chiefs of Armed forceshave appeared before a Parliamentary Committee. As per thenormal practice, the Defence Secretary attends meetings of theParliamentary Committees along with Vice Chiefs of theServices.

In the morning session, Singh gave assurances to thecommittee to completely overhaul the mechanism on supply ofdry rations to over million soldiers posted in remote areasafter the government auditor CAG revealed that stale food wasbeing provided to them, specially at high-altitude posts likeSiachen.

The PAC, chaired by BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi, askedthe General to submit within three months clarificationssought by members on improving the supply chain management ofdry rations.

"The MPs made some good suggestions. We have taken themin account," the Army chief told reporters assuring a completeoverhaul of the system in six months.

Besides Singh, the top defence brass including secretary-rank officials from the minister and Quartermaster General,incharge of defence canteens appeared before the PAC.

The army officials made presentations before the memberson the system of supplying dry rations -- rice, wheat, dal,sugar, tea, oil, tinned items -- to soldiers.

The CAG, in a report to Parliament in August last, hadcalled for a complete overhaul of the existing system, rangingfrom computerisation and better procurement procedures toexpansion in the vendor base and blacklisting of defaultingparties.

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