Audit shows army feeds 2.5 lakh ghost soldiers
An internal audit has exposed the Indian Army for supplying ration to at least 2.5 lakh ghost soldiers who either do not exist or draw the double benefit of free cooked meals plus the ration monthly allowance (RMA).
The defence ministry's controller general defence accounts (CGDA) has questioned the Army for procuring ration for 14 lakh personnel during 2010-11 while its actual strength is only about 11.5 lakh.
The Army tried to wriggle out claiming the excess procurement was required to feed the jawans of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and civilian labour working for the force, but the CGDA did not buy this excuse.
The audit by CGDA showed that 10 lakh personnel were being supplied cooked meals while about Rs 670 crore was spent for ration in cash called RMA to another four lakh personnel. Either more ration was procured than the required amount or a large number of personnel were taking the free cooked meal as well as the monthly allowance.
The Army authorities, however, refute the audit report, asserting that additional rations are procured to meet the operational requirements while it has to also stock supplies in Jammu and Kashmir and the northeast due to absence of vendors there.
While the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had pulled up the Army last year for providing substandard food to jawans posted in Siachen Glacier and other inhospitable terrain, the CGDA found the Army giving at least three times more food as diet to its men than prescribed by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
The Army sought to reject the auditor's stricture on the ground that the physical activity in the force is more and that required higher level of ration. When the auditor wondered why should the same scale of ration be given regardless of the nature of job like the officers and jawans engaged in administrative jobs that are not physically demanding, the Army pointed out that even they have to undergo the mandatory physical training every day.