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Irregularities in CSD
PAC summons Army, IAF chiefs

New Delhi, January 8
In an unprecedented development, chiefs of the Army and the IAF will appear before Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Wednesday in connection with alleged irregularities in the Canteen Stores Department supplies.

Naval Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma, who has also been called along with his counterparts of the Army and the IAF to appear before the PAC, would, however, be represented by Vice-Chief Vice Admiral DK Deewan as he will be travelling to Indonesia on a "pre-scheduled" four-day visit beginning tomorrow, sources said today.

The PAC had called the Chiefs of the three Defence Services for a hearing on January 12 based on a CAG report which has pointed out irregularities in the supply chain management of rations by CSD.

The Defence Ministry, which received the communication, advised the Service Chiefs to appear before the PAC apparently to underline the committee's immense significance at a time when the government is seeking to project it as a body as important as the Joint Parliamentary Committee in the 2G spectrum issue, the sources said.

Accordingly, the PAC has been informed that Army chief General V K Singh and Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal P V Naik would be appearing before it, they said.

This would be the first time that the chiefs of armed forces would appear before the PAC as usually the Defence Secretary attends such meetings of the Parliamentary Committees along with Vice Chiefs of the Services.

However, soon after the Defence Ministry received the PAC letter, Army sources had said that the Service chiefs were unlikely to appear before the Committee and instead Vice Chiefs and Quarter Master General equivalents would represent their forces. The Army chief had also wondered if there was any "extra requirement" for the chiefs to appear before the PAC.

Highlighting the irregularities in the CSD, the CAG had said, "The existing procedure for provisioning of dry rations failed to assess the requirement realistically. The failure was mainly due to systemic deficiencies due to which different quantities were worked out at different echelons applying different parameters..."

The report had said that the risk of existence of "cartels" affecting the quantity and quality of rations is too serious to be ignored.

"The Ministry of Defence should set clear targets regarding expansion of vendor base and progress should be closely monitored. The list of vendors should be put on the website of the Army Service Corps," it had said.

As per the usual practice, the Defence Secretary attends such meetings of the Parliamentary Committees along with Vice Chiefs of the Services.

Gen Singh said on Thursday that he had no problem in appearing before PAC if the Ministry wanted it even as he wondered "if there is an extra requirement" for the Chiefs to go before the Committee.

"There are two-three issues raised by the CAG on which the PAC wants to ask or clarify various points. It depends on what the Ministry wants from us. If it wants us to go and clarify, we have got no problem in doing that," he said when asked if he would appear before the PAC. PTI

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