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Army to get vigilance wing to curb scams
New Delhi, Jan 14 (IANS):
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Published on 14 Jan. 2011 11:36 PM IST
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Stung by a series of land scams and corruption cases, the Indian Army is now planning to set up an internal vigilance wing to keep a tab on its men and prevent such instances from recurring.
Army Chief General V.K. Singh said at the annual Army Day-eve press conference Friday that one of his thrust areas since he took over office on March 31 last year was “improving the internal health” of the force to stop corruption among its personnel.
“Though this (internal health) is a very vast subject, what we are looking for is a vigilance mechanism. We do not have this (vigilance) in the Army. We now looking at having one. Of course, we do take suo motu action on a lot of issues (corruption and scams) that come up,” Singh said.
He was replying to a question on the numerous land scams and the action he had taken in the last nine months as army chief on improving the internal health of the force.
On the action against his predecessor, Gen. Deepak Kapoor, whose name figures in the last three land scams that the Army has faced,
the army chief said that the former being a retired officer, the cases have been handed over to the defence ministry for appropriate action.
Kapoor’s name figures in the Sukna episode in West Bengal, the Adarsh Housing Society in Colaba and and land adjacent to the Central Ordnance Depot Kandivali being handed over to a private developer. The last two cases are in Mumbai.
“We (the Army) do not have the means to do investigation on these matters, such as checking out some bank accounts. The defence ministry will decide on the action needed in these cases,” Singh said.
With regard to serving officers involved in the Adarsh Housing Society episode, he said the Army would initiate action against them as per the service rules and the army law. “We have a legal system in the army which will take care of this,” he added. To a query if he would be the first army chief to declare his assets in the public domain and set a precedent for others to follow, Singh said there existed an internal system under which officers filed their movable and immovable property returns every year and on all occasions when they bought or sold property.
Earlier, the armed forces, the Defence Ministry has decided to change its policies related to granting ‘No Objection Certificates’ (NOCs).
“After Adarsh (society scam), we have taken a decision to computerise entire land records with the Defence Estates so that nobody can play with them. We are also going to change the policy of granting NOCs,” Defence Minister A K Antony told reporters but did not specify what alterations could be made. He said that ten years ago, the management of defence land was not as desired and there were several cases of encroachments but with the new changes, the situation would improve in future.
The Minister was responding when asked about the action taken by the government in the cases of land scams like those involving Adarsh society in Mumbai, Sukna in West Bengal and the latest Kandivali again in Mumbai. These scams have been related to granting of NOCs to private builders, allowing them to construct structures on military land or plots adjacent to sensitive bases.
A number of senior serving and retired officers including three former Services chiefs are facing allegations in these scams. Asked about the Adarsh case, the Minister said, “CBI is already carrying out investigations. We are expecting them to soon file a report in this regard.”
Commenting on the latest scam in Kandivili allegedly involving former Minister Rao Inderjit Singh and former Army Chief Gen Deepak Kapoor, Antony said, “We have already received the report and we are examining it.”
He said that in large organisations like the Defence forces, complaints would be there.
“What matters is whether action is taken against them or not. We are taking action whenever we receive any complaint and we look into them,” the Defence Minister said.

 
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