‘Military top guns wasting money’
Top Generals are abusing financial powers and the rulebook pertaining to big-ticket military acquisitions has been thrown out of the window, according to the Comptroller and Auditor General (GAG).
In two reports tabled in Parliament on Friday, the CAG, delivering a blistering indictment of the defence ministry and the military, pointed out 57 gaping irregularities and said defective ammunition was posing a risk to troops. The Rs 936.93-crore deal for purchase of three Boeing business jets for VIP travel was an example of lack of transparency in awarding contracts. “The acquisition process for the VIP aircraft deviated from laid down procedures and well recognised norms of propriety. Supplies valuing USD 50 million were contracted without the benefit of competition,” the CAG said.
The report said the procurement of the third aircraft as “standby” was avoidable considering that there was a mere 27 per cent utilisation of aircraft in the air force’s VVIP squadron during 1999-2007. The CAG faulted the defence ministry as the jets, with a range of 3,000 nautical miles, lacked the endurance for non-stop international flights for which the desirable range is 4,500 nautical miles. “Despite spending Rs 936.93 crore, these VIP aircraft will not be used for international travel necessitating continued use of Air India aircraft,” the report said.
The CAG revealed how army commanders, with financial powers to meet operational requirements, squandered Rs 10.75 crore in procuring stores not covered under their powers.