BSF constable Tej Bahadur Yadav opened the Pandora's box when he said that the soldiers were given sub-standard food. "Do you expect us stand along the border the entire day after eating the kind of food we get," he asked in a Facebook video that has gone viral.
There is an investigation on to ascertain the claims he has made. In this context, let us re-visit the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General in which the army was slammed for the poor quality of food supplies to troops deployed in the operational areas of Jammu and Kashmir and North East.
The report of the CAG that was tabled in Parliament in 2016 noted that the food items were given past their expiry date. Due to this there is very low level of troop satisfaction, the CAG further stated in the report.
Abysmal quality food past its expiry date
There is very low level of troop satisfaction regarding the quantity, quality and taste of ration which includes low quality of meat and fresh vegetables, the CAG stated in the report. The CAG received feedback from several personnel of which 68 per cent graded the food below satisfactory and below.
The CAG noted that the Parliamentary Accounts Committee in 2011 had submitted a report detailing how the the supply chain management could be bettered.
The army however managed to implement only 12 of the recommendations. The report also stated that the army spends Rs 1,500 crore annually to procure ration for the 1.3 million personnel. The process of procurement of fresh ration is non-competitive in the northern, western and southern commands as a result of which poor quality of ration is being supplied at higher rates.
Since the full requirement of rations was not being met by the Army Purchase Organisation, it was leading to local purchase at higher rates, the report also noted. This could lead to a single vendor situation and creates the risk of cartels, the report also stated.
The CAG called for a complete overhaul of the existing system. The report also stated that the existence of cartels is too big a risk to be ignored. Serious absence of competition was noticed in the procurement of fresh ration. 82 per cent of procurement was based on less than three quotations, 36 per cent based on single quotations,'' the report noted.
Poor quality of vegetables
In the Western and Eastern command there is a wide variation in the receipt of fruits and vegetables. A field audit revealed that fruits and vegetables were not available at units according to the prescribed mix. Out of the 423 types of vegetables authorised for units in the border areas only 74 types were issued, the CAG report noted.
The report also pointed towards the lack of coordination between the ministry and the army headquarters which led to over procurement of edible oil, tinned jam, dal, malted milk food and sugar.