Goods supplied to the Canteen Stores Department (CSD) for consumption by defence personnel and their families are increasing failing quality tests. The phenomenon has led the parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence to express its concern in its latest report tabled earlier this month.
The committee has found that huge sums are being collected by CSD as penalty imposed on various companies on account of deficiencies in the quality of goods supplied. This amount has risen from Rs. 28,96,639 in the year 2012-13 to a staggering Rs. 5,70,66,461 in the year 2014-15.
“The Committee would like to know the reason for the increasing number of defaulters and are of the view that only branded and good quality products should be purchased by CSD and no compromises should be made with the health of our defence personnel,” the report states.
It adds that stricter norms should be imposed to tackle instances of supply of substandard items so that it will act as a deterrent on the erring companies.
Data provided by the CSD reveals that the penalty imposed for deficiencies in general items increased from Rs 13,61,841 in 2013-14 to Rs 30,07847 in 2014-15, in food items from Rs 30,33,284 to approximately Rs 1.55 crores and in liquor from Rs 1.46 crores Rs 3.85 crores.
In its defence , CSD stated that it takes feedback about price and policy of the product from beneficiaries. In case any deviation is found in quantity or quality, provisions exist for strict action against the firm including levying heavy penalty, suspension of sale and even deletion of the products.
“CSD carry out quality checks of items on a regular basis to ensure that items approved are supplied by the manufacturers as per Technical Data Specifications /approved specifications of the product,” it said.
In July, 2012 CBI arrested two CSD officers for graft charges. During the course of investigation CBI registered FIR against few other officers and sought prosecution sanction for two serving officers and recommended suitable departmental action against certain other officials. The department has issued prosecution sanction to CBI and has initiated action against all others as suggested by CBI. During the current financial year, one case of irregularity at CSD Depot, Ahmedabad regarding diversion of large quantity of CSD stores to civil market has been reported. The case has been handed over to CBI for investigation.
CSD is a revenue neutral department of the Government of India and is entrusted with the responsibility of providing consumer goods and other household articles of common use to the personnel of the Defence Services and other entitled personnel at a price lower than the prevailing market price. CSD charges a marginal average profit of 6.5 per cent on the goods sold to meet the operational cost as well to generate revenue for the government and grants to the defence services for their welfare activities.