M A I N   N E W S

Col, Lt Col face court martial for Rs 10-crore milk scam
Powder purchased despite adequate stock in store
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
A milk powder scam of nearly Rs 10 crore in Army’s Northern Command has put two senior officers in the dock.

A Colonel earlier posted as the Director Military Farms, Headquarters, Northern Command, and a Lieutenant Colonel, who was the Officer Commanding, Military Farm, Jammu, are facing trial by General Court Martial (GCM) for their alleged acts of omission and commission.

Sources revealed that the GCM’s convening order, issued by the General Officer Commanding 16 Corps, Lt Gen R. Ray on April 5, has listed as many as 27 charges pertaining to intent to defraud and acts prejudicial to good order against the Lt Colonel. The GCM, with Brig Raman Chhibber as the presiding officer, is scheduled to assemble at Akhnoor on April 29.

Between January 2001 and August 2003, nearly 1,526 metric tonnes of skimmed milk power was procured through local purchase despite adequate stocks in the Army stores. Part of the stock procured was transported to stations in Eastern, Western and Central Commands without due sanction and in violation of statutory provisions. The Army has estimated the value of the powder procured to be close to Rs 10 crore.

Further, payments were allegedly made to firms despite the powder not reaching its destinations and some firms were alleged to have been favoured.

The Colonel, on the other hand, is facing charges of failure to exercise requisite supervision and not taking due action during his tenure as director from 2001--2004, when the milk powder was purchased. He also did not allegedly carry out technical inspection, failed to ensure quality tests by Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) and there were irregularities in maintenance of records.

Sources added that a probe into the matter by the CBI revealed that around 100 metric tonnes of milk powder had been moved from Jammu to Punjab. Further, false vehicle numbers were written on documents and no transport charges were mentioned or drawn as per receipt and expense vouchers. The CBI probe also indicated fraudulent entry receipts of consignment in stores.

An Army Court of Inquiry (CoI) also found irregularities in the construction of sheds at the military farm, for which administrative action had been recommended against two other Lieutenant Colonels and a Major, while departmental action was recommended against two civilian employees posted at the farm.

White Mess

l Over 1,500 MT milk powder bought

l Part of the stock transported to Eastern, Western and Central Commands

l Payments made to firms despite stock not reaching its destinations

l The GCM is scheduled to assemble at Akhnoor on April 29





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