New Delhi: With the Union home ministry’s ambitious Modernisation of Police Force (MPF) scheme yet to see the light of day since its clearance 17 years ago, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on Wednesday increased the proportion of central funding for it from 32% to 42%, Union home minister Rajnath Singh confirmed.
“The 14th Finance Commission had recognized the MPF scheme and it had stopped for a while in between. We are now resuming it with a 42% budget allocation," Singh said told reporters in New Delhi.
In 2000, the ministry of home affairs rolled out the MPF scheme that would give a makeover to the police and reduce dependence on paramilitary troops.
The scheme was designed to equip the police with the latest equipment and infrastructure. 17 years on, it remains work in progress. On 1 February, finance minister Arun Jaitley increased the budgetary allocation for modernization of the police (MPF scheme) from Rs1,685 crore in 2016-17 to Rs2,022 crore in 2017-18. The allocation for police infrastructure also went up, from Rs3,265 crore to Rs4,447 crore.
The scheme focuses on improving police mobility, weapons, equipment, training infrastructure, computerization and forensic science facilities.
The CCS has designated a financial outlay of Rs25,060 crore for the MPF scheme over the next three years period, out of which the centre will provide Rs18,636 crore and the states, Rs6,424 crore.
“Special provisions have been made under MPF for internal security, law and order, women security, availability of modern weapons, mobility of police forces, logistics support, hiring of helicopters, upgradation of police wireless, national satellite network, CCTNS (Crime and Criminal Tracking Network Systems) project and the e-prison project," Singh added.
So far, in states such as Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, where towns are far-flung, digitization of police records has proven to be difficult. In states such as Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha, which have a significant Maoist presence, state police bodies are working to ensure 33% representation of women, and also improve safety for officials.
“Connectivity and server issues are a huge problem in some states, where districts are far-flung. But what is a greater challenge is the security of police officials, including women. With left-wing extremism (LWE), there is always a looming threat. That needs to be tackled first in these states," a Jharkhand police official said on condition of anonymity.
Singh also stressed the need to strengthen the criminal justice system, with a slew of new initiatives to provide assistance to states in order to upgrade police infrastructure, forensic science laboratories, institutions and equipment in order to plug gaps in the criminal justice system.
“Police stations will be integrated to set up a national data base of crime and criminals’ records. It will be linked with other pillars of criminal justice system such as “prisons, forensic science laboratories and prosecution offices," he stated.
The home minister also announced that a central budget outlay of Rs10,132 crore had earmarked expenditures pertaining to internal security in Jammu & Kashmir, the North-Eastern states and the states affected by LWE.
“A scheme of Special Central Assistance (SCA) for the 35 LWE affected districts has been introduced with an outlay of Rs3,000 crore to address infrastructure development in these areas," Rajnath Singh added.
Singh also added that the LWE-affected districts would be given a fillip in terms of security-related infrastructure, whereby the centre would also “provide 100% support" in the LWE areas where central paramilitary forces have been serving.