Indian troops hit bottle hard, army in the red

New Delhi, October 23:

India’s million-plus army is consuming much more alcohol than permitted, causing huge financial losses to the state and raising suspicions of widespread black marketeering, a report said today.

Among the biggest culprits is the Indian army’s most prestigious hospital in New Delhi and a military spy unit attached to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s office, the Midday evening newspaper said.

When contacted by AFP, defence ministry and army sources confirmed there was a serious problem.

Indian soldiers are allowed a certain amount of heavily-subsidised liquor for personal consumption, but the report said the limit was being widely flouted.

It said 43 army units had inflicted a loss of around 100 million rupees on the government over the past 18 months, the paper said.

“We suspect some of it is finding its way into the civilian market and we are trying to plug it,” a colonel from the army’s Central Stores Department told AFP.