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Army chooses golf over soldiers

delhi Updated: Jul 11, 2009 00:38 IST
Rahul Singh

Golf-crazy generals have diverted precious government funds from one type of handicap to another. In a shocking disclosure made by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), top generals abused their financial powers to buy golf carts in the guise of mechanised wheelchairs for army hospitals and urgently required military equipment.

The army’s love for golf not only compromised the welfare of soldiers, but also drained the state exchequer of Rs 1.17 crore, revealed a CAG report tabled in Parliament on Friday.

The Western Command ordered five electric multi-utility vehicles (motorised carts) for transporting aged/handicapped patients in May 2006.

Lieutenant General Daljeet Singh (retd), then Western Army chief, invoked his special financial powers to sanction Rs 15.60 lakh for the motorised carts.

The Army Research and Referral Hospital dispatched three carts to the Western Command Hospital in Chandimandir and one each to hospitals in Jammu and Amritsar.

The Chandimandir hospital diverted the three motorised carts to the Shivalik Golf Course in September 2006. Two of these later ended up at golf courses in Ambala and Jalandhar.

After examining the specifications, the CAG found that these were actually golf carts.
The defence ministry insisted that the motorised carts were being used in the hospitals but CAG found documentary evidence to the contrary.

Again in March 2008, the new Western Command chief, Lieutenant General Tej Sapru, sanctioned the procurement of 22 ‘track alignment reconnaissance vehicles’ (TARVs) — vehicles which facilitates reconnaissance and laying tracks —for Rs 1.01 crore under his special financial powers. These were meant for the sapper regiments.

The CAG found that the TARVs, too, were golf carts. Several regiments issued the TARVs were responsible for the maintenance of golf courses, the report said.

This time the ministry’s justification bordered on the ridiculous. It said golf carts facilitated “noiseless reconnaissance in close proximity to the enemy and helped in quick laying of track material.”