After the provision of sub-standard rations to jawans, the Army’s supply chain management has now come under the scanner. An internal audit of the Army has found that the force is allegedly over-procuring rations for at least two lakh non-existent soldiers.
This apart, the report also said the Army is feeding its jawans more than the prescribed medical norms.
The report prepared by Defence Ministry’s Controller General Defence Accounts (CGDA) for the year 2010-2011 has brought out this discrepancy. The CGDA said the Army was procuring rations for 14 lakh personnel though its current strength is only about 11.5 lakh.
The CAG had last year pulled up the Army for providing substandard food to jawans, mostly posted in Siachen Glacier and inhospitable terrain.
The Army denied the allegations on Monday saying it procures rations for the IAF, Border Roads Organisation(BRO), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and civilian labour working for the force. Therefore, the number is much more than 14 lakh as alleged and a detailed answer to this query was given to the CGDA, it maintained.
The CGDA report said, as per rules, Army personnel can either draw ration in cash called Ration Monthly Allowance (RMA) or procure cooked meals and the allowance is directly credited to their salaries.
The CGDA said nearly 10 lakh personnel opted for cooked meals. But the audit found that about Rs 670 crore was allocated as Ration Monthly Allowance, which at the rate of about Rs 46 per head meant a monthly allowance for four lakh personnel.
The report then said the total strength as per these calculations come to 14 lakh which is two lakh more than the actual strength of the force. It noted that either more rations were procured or more given as RMA.
The Army, however, countered the allegation saying due to operational requirements it has to procure rations for 5/6th of the actual posted strength of troops. Also, the Army has to depend on its own supply depots in areas like the North-East and Jammu and Kashmir due to absence of vendors there. This is an addition to procurements for the IAF, ITBP and BRO, officials said.
With regard to quality and quantity of rations, the CGDA said the Army is giving at least three times more food as diet to its men than prescribed by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
Giving examples, the audit said while the recommended intake of cereals for normal human consumption is 460 grams per day, the Army gives 600 grams per day. Similarly, the Army gives nearly 80 grams of pulses though the prescribed ICMR norm is 40 grams. Moreover, the Army gives 90 grams of sugar per day to its personnel as against the ICMR norm of 30 grams. Quoting another instance, the report said while the ICMR recommends 30 grams of meat per person, Army norms prescribe 100 grams of meat.
The audit report also raised questions about giving same scale of rations regardless of age and nature of job done. It said jawans deployed in widely divergent terrains and climate need food rich in calorie than those posted in warm areas. Moreover, officers and jawans performing administrative duties may require different scale of rations as compared to personnel deployed in physically demanding operations.
Rebutting these observations, the Army said the ICMR norms are applicable to normal persons. However, men in uniform perform different nature of duties and the present scale of rations was evolved after careful study by the doctors, sources said.
When asked about rations as per level of physical activity as pointed out by the auditor, they said officers and jawans performing administrative duties also have to go through the mandatory physical training and sports every day and therefore the ration scales have to cater to these factors.
Sources also said Army personnel get special diet and rations when deployed in mountainous terrain and the ration scales are different for three categories of height ranging from 9,000 feet to 15,000 feet and beyond.
-via The Pioneer