The Centre's no-refund grant to states for modernising their police forces to fight terrorists and criminals has few takers with only Gujarat, Kerala and Manipur showing any interest.
The Rs 1,759 crore meant for imparting training to police forces in sophisticated arms and ammunition remained un-utilised with the central government, with no state government, except from the three, coming forward with proposals to stake claim to the funds.
Following the recommendation of the 13th Finance Commission, the central government had in 2007 agreed to grant over Rs 2,000 crore to the states as most of the security men do not get any mid-career training though the governments keep buying new arms and ammunition.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.”
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.
“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.â€ŠNinety-one works were incomplete after incurring expenditure of Rs12.48 crore,” the report on Rajasthan said.
Karnataka,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.”