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CAPF Canteens Put Procurement on Hold Till MHA Clarifies 'Swadeshi' Products

File photo of a CAPF canteen.

File photo of a CAPF canteen.

The mega network of central police canteens caters to about 50 lakh troops and their families and has a total of 446 Indian and multi-national firms are their supply rolls

The mega network of central paramilitary forces that caters to about 50 lakh troops and their families has "put on hold" all fresh procurement of supplies from over 400 vendors till a clarity is obtained from the government on the term "swadeshi" products, officials said on Tuesday.

The Union Home Ministry on May 13 had declared that these canteens will only sell indigenous or "swadeshi" products from June 1 in a bid to give fillip to domestic industries.

The central police welfare stores body, under which the country-wide network of these canteens function, has recently issued a order "putting on hold all indent and supply orders for all category of items with immediate effect and till clear instructions on "swadeshi" firms and products is received from the Ministry of Home Affairs.

It has informed all paramilitary or Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) that supplies that are already placed and "mobilised" on will be accepted.

However, all supply orders which have been been made earlier but the products have not been shipped, are being put on hold or cancelled at the moment.

It added that there was no need for "panic" selling of the existing goods inventory and even unsold goods need not be sent back to the supplier. A total of 446 Indian and multi-national firms are on the supply rolls of the central police canteens at present.

"The MHA orders on the definition of "swadeshi" products are expected to come very soon. Meetings are being held with the commerce ministry to see how 'Make in India' and other such initiatives can be tapped for these canteens that will boost domestic industry, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and Khadi industries," a senior official said.

The central paramilitary forces canteens run a nationwide network of over 1,700 Central Police Canteens (CPCs) that sell products ranging from groceries, clothes, gift items and vehicles among others, except liquor which is procured through open tender or army canteens.

The CAPF canteens do an estimated business worth Rs 2,800 crore annually by selling their products to 50 lakh family members of about 10 lakh personnel of these forces tasked for a variety of internal security duties and border guarding.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah, while making the announcement to go "swadeshi", had said that the decision to sell only indigenous products through the CPCs has been taken by his ministry after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's appeal for opting local products and being self-reliant.

The CAPFs canteens comprise those run by CRPF, BSF, CISF, ITBP and SSB, apart from the elite commando force NSG.

PTI had first reported in October last year that the home ministry had directed all CAPFs to shun foreign brands and introduce 'swadeshi' goods, including food items, household goods and clothing, in their canteens and offices.

The official order issued by the ministry last year had said 'swadeshi' should be made available in these canteens for goods like food items, clothes and accoutrements for khaki and combat uniform, bed sheets, towels, curtains, stationery and all other miscellaneous items.

This canteen network was established in 2006. There are over 119 master canteens and 1,625 subsidiary canteens at various locations where these forces are deployed, be it along borders or the interiors of Naxal violence-hit or insurgency affected states.