Rations to officers in peace areas restored

Vijay Mohan
Indiatimesworld News Service
Chandigarh, August 11

Over two years after the government stopped the issue of “rations in kind” to armed forces officers posted in peace stations, orders have now been formally issued to restore the same.

“It is requested to kindly make immediate necessary arrangements for providing ‘rations in kind’ to officers of defence forces posted in peace areas as per their entitlement,” a letter issued by the MoD to the three service chiefs on August 9 states. The orders are to be implemented with immediate effect.

Instead of providing rations, the government had introduced payment of ration money allowance to the officers at fixed rates in July 2017 under a system termed direct benefit transfer (DBT). It was initially pegged at Rs 96.03 per man per day and at present had risen to Rs 117.29.

The political decision to roll back the DBT was taken in June, following which the matter was taken up with various departments concerned. “After due deliberations and consultations with the Ministry of Finance, the President of India is pleased to restore ‘rations in kind’ to officers of defence forces posted in peace areas,” the letter adds. The move to stop the rations had not gone down well with the defence forces and had also created administrative issues. Frequent movement of officers on temporary duty to operational areas, on field exercises or on deployment in aid to civil authority, created confusion. It was also projected that the rate fixed by the government was not commensurate with the authorised scale of rations.

Military regulations lay down a daily intake of 1,800 to 2,000 calories for officers, but with the prices of items available in the market, it was not possible to fulfill this requirement within the given rates. Rations in kind being supplied to officers include fresh items such as vegetables, milk, meat and cheese as well as some dry or packaged items and supplements.

A colonel from the Judge Advocate General’s Department, the Army’s legal wing, had sent a legal notice to the government on the issue, seeking withdrawal of DBT and restoration of the rations. Pointing out that there was no mention of cash in lieu of the free rations mentioned in the terms and conditions of service in the notification on the basis of which he had decided to join the Army, he had contended that the DBT was violative of his service conditions upon which he was employed and commissioned and it was done without obtaining any written consent from him.