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Rifles, cartridges found missing in SAPB Battlion: CAG report

Press Trust of India  |  Thiruvananthapuram 

: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has found shortage of 5.56 mm INSAS rifles and 12,061 live cartridges in the Special Armed Police Battalion (SAPB) here and has come down on state police chief DGP Loknath Behera for purchasing bullet proof vehicles for VVIP security, violating guidelines.

There was shortage of 250 9 mm Drill Cartridges, which was "covered up" with dummy cartridges, the report on General and Social sector for the fiscal ending March 31, 2018 said.

It also found that anti Maoist operations at Palakkad, Malappuram, Idukki and Wayanad had taken a hit due to dependence of police on analog communication equipment and blamed the state government for failing to make timely payment of spectrum charges and obtain license from the Union government for procuring Digital Mobile Radios.

Briefing reporters on the CAG findings,Accountant General (General and Social Sector Audit), S SunilRaj said a joint verification on October 16, 2018, in the Bell-of-Arms of SAPB, along with the Assistant Commandant, revealed shortage of 25 5.56 mm INSAS rifles and 12,061 live cartridges.

While the police department was aware of the shortage in ammunition, it "attempted to cover up" instead of identifying and taking action against those responsible for it.

Coming down on Behara, the report said he had "violated" MPF (Modernisation of Police Force) scheme guidelines, which prohibit procurement of vehicles for VIP/VVIP security utilising the MPF funds.

The police department procured two bullet resistant vehicles for security of VIPs, VVIPs and Z+ category visitors to Kerala at a total cost of Rs 1.10 crore without inviting tenders as required under the Stores Purchase Manual.

The objective of providing increased mobility to police forces as envisaged under the MPF scheme would have been achieved had the department procured bullet proof/mine proof vehicles for deployment in naxal infested areas rather than acquiring bullet proof cars for VIP security, the report said.

Behera also diverted Rs 2.81 crore meant for construction of upper subordinate staff quarters for construction of villas for SPC/ADGPs, it said.

When the opposition Congress led UDF raised the charges on the CAG report in the house,Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the government would examine it as per procedures.

Vijayan rejected the charges raised by P T Thomas, MLA, against the police department, saying the government had verified the detailed report submitted by the police in this regard and found that all the allegations were "baseless".

Countering the charge that laptops, cameras and vehicles were purchased violating store purchase rules, he said it was natural to buy them as part of modernising the police force.

The computers and laptops were purchased with the permission of the state empowered committee under the government and CCTV cameras were brought through open tender.

The CIMS (Central Intrusion Monitoring System) project, against which the opposition levelled corruption charges, was the first such surveillance system in the country, aimed at checking robbery by installing cameras at houses, he said.

State-run Keltron was the implementing agency and neither the police department nor the government was spending any fund for the initiative, the Chief Minister said.

He also rubbished the charge that the fund earmarked to construct quarters for Station House Officers (SHOs) in Maoist infested areas was diverted to build bungalows and villas for high rank officers without the permission of the government.

Meanwhile,Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala demanded a CBI probe against Behera and an NIA probe into the missing ammunition.

He also wondered why the Chief Minister was giving 'evasive replies' to the allegations raised by P T Thomas.

The Audit report also said the police department had violated Stores Purchase Manual and CVC guidelines in the procurement of equipment.

In at least four instances, there was a "clear nexus" between officers of the police department, vendors and Keltron in fixing prices, resulting in pecuniary loss to the scheme.

Instead of taking steps to overcome the vehicle shortfall in police stations,15 per cent of the 269 light Motor Vehicles procured by the police department were luxury cars were deployed for use of high-level officers and non operational units like CB-CID, it was stated.

Reacting to the report, Behera said in a statement that as per procedure, the audit report would be sent to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which is competent and empowered to take decisions on the allegations.

"We will give a reply to the authority concerned as per procedures and rules", he said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, February 12 2020. 19:44 IST