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  India   All India  05 Feb 2017  ‘Army’s food supply system wasteful’

‘Army’s food supply system wasteful’

THE ASIAN AGE. | SANJIB KR BARUAH
Published : Feb 5, 2017, 4:54 am IST
Updated : Feb 5, 2017, 5:09 am IST

Besides the uneconomical aspect, there is a quality issue that has been highlighted by jawans posting videos on social media.

Indian Army (Photo: AP)
 Indian Army (Photo: AP)

New Delhi: An outdated system of centrally procuring, transporting and supplying food items like rice, wheat, pulses etc to the 13-lakh-strong Indian Army in locations including 62 cantonments and many non-cantonment military units across the length and breadth of the country is costing much more than the cost of the food items.

In 2010-11, while the Army Service Corps (ASC) spent Rs 2,100 crore in the acquisition of food items, it expended about Rs 1,500 crore on an exclusive distribution system by way of expenditure on manpower, land, buildings, packaging, handling and transportation —more than 71 per cent of the cost of acquisition of food items, says an internal audit report of the defence ministry.

 

“As such distribution through ASC has largely become operationally and economically dysfunctional,” says the report. ASC, which caters to Indian Army’s ration requirements, is the centralised inter-service agency headed by a director general of supplies and transport (DGST) functioning under quartermaster general (QMG) at the Army headquarters.

A main reason why this is so is because the government still follows a 74-year-old British system of centrally procuring food items and distributing it to its soldiers across the length and breadth of the country, leading to a wasteful situation that doesn’t make economic sense.

“In the past there were many issues including non-availability of food items, poor transportation systems across difficult terrains etc., things have changed drastically now,” a government source familiar with the procurement and distribution system told this newspaper.

 

Procuring rations locally is allowed only if the items are not forthcoming through central sources and special procedures are prescribed for this.

In the past, the defence ministry reports had suggested a systemic overhaul of the present food procurement and distribution system.

For dry items (wheat, rice, sugar, vegetable oil, pulses, tea, etc), an elaborate exercise, beginning from supply depots and moving up through various army formations to DGST and finally the defence ministry, is carried out centrally and annual requirements are communicated to the Army Purchase Organisation — another centralised agency for procurement under the defence ministry.

 

While the British army and many other armies of the world including the US have discarded the system of central procurement and distribution of food items and use a vendor-managed inventory system, the Indian Army still continues with the old system that started in 1943.

Besides the uneconomical aspect, there is a quality issue that has been highlighted by jawans posting videos on social media.

With most of the defence service locations are operating from defence land and in largely urban locations in vicinity of civil population and civil markets, it is much easier to extend or develop further the food distribution system already available in these urban locations.

 

“The ASC follows highly centralised inspectorate system which has led to delays in inspection with suppliers failing to deliver in time,” the report points out.

“It is generally observed that the existing system of inspection based on sample inspection at suppliers premises before despatch and delivery, has substantially failed to maintain high standards”, the report says. 

Tags: indian army, defence ministry, social media, army service corps
Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi