Home >politics >policy >Scheme for modernization of police still a work in progress

New Delhi: Handed a 30% increase in its budget, the home ministry is scrambling to complete projects aimed at modernizing the country’s police force and improving police infrastructure.

In 2000, the ministry of home affairs rolled out the Modernization of Police Force (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. Seventeen years on, it remains a work in progress.

On 1 February, finance minister Arun Jaitley increased the budgetary allocation for modernization of the police from Rs1,685 crore in 2016-17 to Rs2,022 crore in 2017-18. The allocation for police infrastructure went up even more sharply, from Rs3,265 crore to Rs4,447 crore.

The scheme focuses on improving police mobility, weapons, equipment, training infrastructure, computerization and forensic science facilities.

Armed with the increase, the home ministry is now scrambling to upgrade the police.

While minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju said earlier in February at an event in Delhi that “the modernization of police forces was not up to the mark," his colleague with the same portfolio, Hansraj Ahir, remained non-committal in his response earlier in the month to the Lok Sabha on the utilization of allocated funds.

Ahir passed the buck to the state governments.

“Each state government finalizes their annual plans and projects according to their requirements and strategic priorities. For the current financial year, all the states submitted their state action plans and funds are being released based on allocation of each state and subject to submission of Utilization Certificates (UCs) in respect of funds released to each state prior to the last financial year," Ahir informed Lok Sabha.

The MPF scheme is a home ministry project alongside the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network Systems (CCTNS) scheme which, seven years after being cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), is also far from completion.

At the Delhi police headquarters, the newly appointed commissioner of police Amulya Patnaik is trying to implement the MPF scheme to the maximum possible extent—a part of which also requires 33% representation of women in police. In a move towards digitization, commissioner Patnaik has now started reviving mobile applications that had previously been launched to assist the police and public.

“Cyber security is a major area of concern for all of us due to digitization of money transfer and we would ensure that offences related to this are tackled appropriately. We would strengthen the district cyber security cells. I have instructed my officers to work on this as well," Patnaik told the media this month.

In states such as Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, where towns are far flung, digitization is proving 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, there is always a looming threat. That needs to be tackled first in these states," a Jharkhand police official said on condition of anonymity.

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