The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has brought to light a security breach by the Indian Air Force in one of its stations by allowing a private telecom company to erect its antenna within its premises and asked the government to initiate a probe to fix responsibility for the lapse.
According to the recent report, IAF's Air Officer Commander at one of the stations was approached by the Reliance Infocomm for installation of a booster antenna within the station complex in May 2004 and the permission was granted by the concerned authorities.
The company was asked to pay Rs 5,000 as rent and allied charges to the government, which was subsequently reduced to Rs 1,000 in September 2005.
"As a goodwill gesture, the company agreed to provide 20 mobile telephones for 20 officers with maximum billing up to Rs 15,000," the report said, adding the number of free connections was increased to 22 in July 2005.
In terms of the agreement, the company was to pay monthly lease rebate of Rs 16,000, monthly cleaning charges of Rs 200 besides a non-refundable security deposit of Rs 75,000 and a refundable deposit of a similar amount.
The IAF station had informed that Rs 16,000 paid by Reliance Infocomm was due to the Service Institute Fund, a non-public fund rather than the Government treasury.
The CAG report pointed out that the approval accorded to the company by the AOC was not only "violative of rules", but also did not meet the standards of "financial propriety".
For erection of the antenna, IAF station did not seek any clearance from the Government which is essential since the area where the antenna was installed fell in a very sensitive security zone," the report said, adding "by allowing a private company to erect an antenna in a high security zone, AOC may have not only compromised but also endangered security."
Terming the agreement as "irregular", the report said, "the facilities in the form of mobile connections given by the company as a goodwill gesture to 20 officers in the station since May 2004 and 22 officers since July 2005 are undue benefits to the officers in the nature of a quid pro quo.
"Information made available by the IAF authorities indicate that the usage charges for the mobiles are being offset against the monthly lease rebate of Rs 16,000. The propriety of the same is not free from doubts," the report said.
"The case needs a probe to fix responsibility for violation of norms," it said.