Army, IAF chiefs to appear before PAC over canteen irregularitiesBy IANS
Saturday, January 8, 2011
NEW DELHI - Chiefs of the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force (IAF) and vice chief of the Indian Navy will be appearing before parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Wednesday to answer queries about alleged irregularities in defence-run canteens as reported by the government auditor last year.
Highly placed sources told IANS that the defence ministry has asked Army Chief General V.K. Singh and Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik to appear before the PAC over the issue.
Since Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma is on a “pre-scheduled visit” to Indonesia, he would be represented by his deputy Vice Admiral D.K. Deewan, an official familiar with the development said.
“The PAC has been informed that General Singh and Air Chief Marshal Naik will be appearing and the navy will be represented by Vice Admiral Deewan because the government suggested that Admiral Verma’s appointment should not be cancelled,” the official said.
The PAC had called the three service chiefs last Wednesday for providing accounts of the unit-run canteens to the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).
Defence ministry sources said the navy, air force and the army had not responded to the ministry on the queries raised by the auditor. The PAC then wrote letters to the service chiefs asking them to appear before the committee.
The CAG in its report in August last year had criticised the services over the way Canteen Stores Department (CSD) and its unit-run canteens function and the lack of transparency in their accounting methods.
The military had defended its actions, saying the services had their own internal audit mechanisms to keep a watch on canteens.
There are some 3,600 unit-run canteens, which are set up on soft loans extended by the military, and operate from official military premises. The CAG report had found that the concessions given to the canteens resulted in a loss of Rs.441 crore to the government from 2002-03 to 2008-09.
The CAG report had criticised the existing methods of ration procurement by canteens and castigated the military saying there were “systemic deficiencies” in running the canteens.
It said existing procedure were not enough to assess the requirement of dry ration “realistically”.
As per the procedures, the CAG can seek details from the ministry over alleged irregularities, if any, and the defence secretary usually attends to such calls by parliamentary committees.
This is the first time that the PAC had summoned the chiefs of the three services.