Saturday, August 14, 2010

CAG pulls up Services for selling liquor in open market

New Delhi: The armed forces simply love their booze.So do civilians,always on the lookout to tap Army contacts for a bottle or two,if not a case or two,of the much cheaper liquor available in Fauji canteens. But large-scale diversion of liquor meant for soldiers to the civil market has become a cottage industry in itself,with some unscrupulous civilian and military officials raking in large amounts of moolah.In fact,there have been several cases of officers,including a couple of brigadiers and even a major-general,being court-martialled for allegedly selling huge quantities of military quota liquor in the open market.

CSD (canteen stores department ) and the Services should ensure that liquor demanded and issued to unit-run canteens (URCs) is strictly as per their authorisation to prevent its leakage into civil market, says the latest CAG report,tabled in Parliament on Friday.This comes after the CAG conducted a performance audit of CSD,which has annual sales worth around Rs 6,900 crore,of which liquor forms a major chunk. In just five of the 34 area depots of CSD under examination,CAG found several units were drawing liquor far in excess of what was authorised based on the number of soldiers and ex-servicemen connected with those units.The units responsible for this overdrawing were mainly the Rajputana Rifles Regimental Centre at Delhi,the Station HQ at Dehu Road in Pune district,and Station HQ at Jabalpur.Of the Rs 5.26 crore worth of liquor overdrawn in Delhi,the RajRif Centre alone was responsible for 57,076 cases valued at Rs 4.79 crore. That is certainly quite a bit,considering the Army has been progressively slashing the liquor quota of officers and jawans.All officers up to Colonels and their equivalents in Navy and IAF,for instance,are now permitted to draw only 10 liquor bottles per month from CSD canteens.The earlier limit was 16 bottles,which was reduced to 12 a couple of years ago.

Field Marshals and equivalents,serving and retired Service chiefs,can draw all the liquor they want since they have no limit.Serving and retired Lt-Generals,Vice-Admirals and Air Marshals have a limit of 14 bottles,while Major-Generals and Brigadiers can take 12 bottles home every month.Serving JCOs like Subedar Majors,Subedars and Naib Subedars are entitled to seven bottles.All other ranks have to make do with five bottles.

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