NEW DELHI: In a move to make procurement of expensive items easier for soldiers, the Ministry of Defence has issued an order to the three services—Army, Navy and Air Force—to compile a list of Unit Run Canteens (URCs) which can be permitted to deposit money and sell expensive goods, which until now were being sold by depots.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, an officer said: “A letter was issued by the Ministry of Defence on January 27, 2018, and the three services have been asked to prepare a list of the URCs which will be permitted to deposit money, issue the release order, and sell the items, which is at present done by the depots. Implementation of this scheme will start from February 1, 2018.” These items can also be procured from accredited dealers in lieu of the release orders.
The number of depots in the states is small, sometimes as little as one in a state. This not only makes the procurement of expensive items cumbersome, the soldier also has to bear the transportation cost, which erodes the financial benefit which comes from buying things at subsidised rates from the canteens.
There are more Unit Run Canteens, run by all three services, which serve as retail centres selling food and beverage items, toiletries and all kinds of consumer durables to soldiers at the lowest prices in the country.
The depots are the stocking centres where expensive items such as refrigerators, air conditioners, cars, and bikes are stored for distribution. With more retail centres selling these items, things will become easier and less time consuming, and will save money. This will benefit approximately one crore uniformed personnel, their dependents and ex-servicemen.