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Top generals in cereal scam

AFTER ALCOHOL, meat and petrol, the Indian Army has now been hit by a cereal scam. A court of inquiry has found that last year the army had procured around 1,000 metric tonnes of ?masoor dal? which was "unfit for human consumption".

india Updated: Jun 16, 2006 10:47 IST
ANIL Anand

AFTER ALCOHOL, meat and petrol, the Indian Army has now been hit by a cereal scam. A court of inquiry has found that last year the army had procured around 1,000 metric tonnes of ‘masoor dal’ which was "unfit for human consumption".

The probe has named nearly a dozen top army officials, including three generals, "guilty of ignoring the quality-control specifications and changing the tendering process" for purchasing the dal and large quantity of animal feed.

The purchases were made in early 2005. Following complaints, a probe was ordered in September 2005. It was completed in March.

The over 800-page inquiry report on the cereal scam has pin-pointed serious lapses in the procurement process. The sample testing done during the probe showed that the dal was "adulterated and unfit for human consumption".

Due to the delay in ordering the probe, about 30 to 40 per cent of the total order had already reached its destination.

About the purchase of the animal feed, the probe reportedly found that dealing officials were involved in tampering with the tender rules to benefit a supplier.

They were said to have entered into a fresh agreement with the supplier at a higher rate after cancelling an earlier contract signed with the same party. The result: a net loss of Rs 4 crore to the exchequer.

The court of inquiry has recommended disciplinary action under the Army Act and rules against five officers — a brigadier, two colonels and a lieutenant colonel. Also, it has recommended administrative action for award of recordable censure against seven other officers.

The inquiry is said to have found many flaws in the working of the system, particularly of the Central Food Laboratory (CFL). A number of officers in question belong to either the CFL or other army laboratories.

Referring to the masur dal procurement case, the probe has strongly recommended a periodic review of the specifications laid for purchases to check unscrupulous contractors from supplying adulterated food items.

But the Court of Inquiry report -- submitted in March -- is learnt to be gathering dust at Army Headquarters, with no follow-up action in sight. The question: is the delay an attempt to provide a safe passage to some of the officers figuring in the list who are due to be promoted?

Meanwhile, a GOC is already in the dock after his name figured in a scam involving the sale of subsidised CSD liquor in the open market.

In another case, senior officials were found to be favouring some meat suppliers through gross violation of specified contractual procedure.