New Delhi: Indian states, including violence-hit Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh, do not have a good record in spending money doled out by the Union government to modernize police forces that are typically under-equipped and poorly motivated, and in 2006-07 spent just a little over half this money.
The utilization of this money in 2006-07, also shows a sharp fall from that in 2005-06, though the number of terror attacks actually rose in this period.
Around 44% of the funds released by the Union government for the Modernization of Police Forces, or MPF, scheme in 2006-07 have remained unspent, according to data collected by PRS Legislative Research, an independent research organization.
Lesson not learnt: A 27 november picture of the Taj Mahal hotel under terrorist attack. Funds utilization in 2006-07 fell sharply from the year -ago period, though terror attacks actually rose during this time. Gautam Singh / AP
PRS based its findings on the basis of an answer to a question asked in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament. MPF provides funds to upgrade the communications systems and computerize the police forces and also looks to fund the development of housing for policemen and women.
In a chief ministers’ meet held on 6 January, convened in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks in November that killed 183 people, home minister P. Chidambaram told state governments to speed up the modernization process. Under Indian laws on the division of power between the Union government and states, the latter are in charge of law and order and the police.
According to government data, of the Rs1,065.22 crore released to states in 2006-07 under MPF, only Rs604 crore was spent. In 2005-06, of the Rs1,025 crore allotted, just Rs983.98 crore was spent.
The unaudited allotment for the scheme in 2007-08 was Rs1,248.7 crore. Details on the amounts spent by the states are not yet available.
The fund categorizes the states into two groups. The first includes Jammu and Kashmir and the seven north-eastern states that received 100% Central funding. The second group has 20 states that get 75% of Central funds and are supposed to pitch in with the remaining 25%.
The states have also been sliding on the rate of utilization. The percentage of fund utilization was 84.44% in 2000-01, 99.10% in 2001-02 and 98.26% in 2002-03. This dropped alarmingly to 29.09% in 2003-04, before rising to 54.13% in 2004-05 and 95.99% in 2005-06. It again slumped to 56.70% in 2006-07.
Chhattisgarh, a hotbed of Maoist violence, has been the worst performer. In 2006-07, the state spent only Rs8.51 crore of the Rs57.06 crore allocated, leaving Rs48.55 crore unspent.
Andhra Pradesh didn’t spent Rs19.9 crore during the period, while the unspent amount for Jharkhand was Rs 15.82 crore in 2006-07, Karnataka Rs17.99 crore, Orissa Rs15.2 crore and Uttar Pradesh Rs14.99 crore.
“There were difficulties in completing construction work in Naxalite-hit regions and also in getting the right agencies to certify the quality of the modern equipment that had to be purchased. Steps have already been taken to expedite the process,” said Joy Oommen, chief secretary, Chhattisgarh.
C. Uday Bhaskar, former director of Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis, said the biggest drawback of India’s internal security apparatus has been the police forces. “All state governments, both at the political and bureaucratic levels, have preferred keeping their police forces under-equipped and poorly motivated. The very character of the police force is tainted and there is widespread corruption and nepotism at the recuritment level,” he said.
According to former national security adviser Brajesh Mishra, successive state governments are to be blamed for this state of affairs. “There was a police reforms committee some time ago whose recommendations were never adopted,” he said. “The priority in states is not law and order but to use police forces for political purposes, whether it is for appointments or transfers.”
Mint reviewed the reports of the comptroller and auditor general of India, or CAG, on modernization of the?police forces of three states that saw terror strikes last year—Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Karnataka—to understand their performance. The latest report available for Maharashtra was for the year ended March 2005; it was March 2007 for the other two states.
“Due to the slow progress of the (MPF) programme, GoI (government of India) released only Rs376.44 crore (of the Rs473.95 crore meant for 2000-01 to 2004-05)...during 2000-05... Thus, the state government (Maharashtra) could not avail (of) the GoI share of Rs97.51 crore of the approved plan so far (July 2005),” states the audit report of Maharashtra.
The report says, of 54 construction projects taken up under the scheme between 2001 and 2005, only seven were completed as of June 2005 after spending Rs41.46 crore. “...Computers had not been supplied to all the police... there was no proposal yet (October 2005) to introduce relevant software to improve efficiency of report writing...,” the Maharashtra report said.
Maharashtra’s home minister Chagan Bhujbal couldn’t be reached for comment despite repeated attempts.
The situation is similar in Rajasthan. Jaipur was targeted by terrorists in May last year, leaving at least 80 people dead. Though the unspent part of the MPF scheme fund isn’t too high, the efficiency of utilization has been under CAG’s scanner.
“State government (Rajasthan) did not contribute its matching share during 2002-07. Underutilization of funds by the state government ranged between 24% and 40%. (The) state was deprived of Central grant of Rs154.22 crore due to slow utilization of funds...Ninety-nine buildings completed at a cost of Rs10.18 crore were not taken over even after one to 41 months of completion.?Ninety-one works were incomplete after incurring expenditure of Rs12.48 crore,” the report on Rajasthan said.
Karnataka, whose capital Bangalore has been a target of more than one terror attack in the last few years, presents a similar picture. According to the CAG report, there was an unspent balance of Rs22.10 crore in 2006-07 from the Central share. The report said that “the utilization of funds provided for the modernization of state police force was not efficient due to release of funds by government of India at the fag end of the year and procedural delays.”
Liz Mathew and Rahul Chandran also contributed to this story.