At least 42 of 125 projects sanctioned since 1995 not completed; eight projects scrapped; files of 10 projects missing; 16 projects approved two years ago but yet to start.
In 1970, the Union Home Ministry set up the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) to “initiate research” for “the modernisation of police forces”. Today, it seems it’s this bureau, which has sunk crores of rupees in dud projects, that urgently needs modernisation.
According to an evaluation of BPR&D projects conducted by its Director General N R Wasan, who took over in May 2015, and information accessed by The Indian Express using the RTI Act, even the final reports of 33 projects completed over the years were merely stored in files and never evaluated.
Records show that many of these projects were handed out to serving or retired IPS officers, including former CBI director Ashwani Kumar. The BPR&D also sanctioned projects worth Rs 10 crore to well-known companies such as Wipro, IL&FS, Randstad and Genesis Media Private Ltd, and even the Punjab government’s Mahatma Gandhi State Institute of Public Administration (MGSIPA) during 2012-13.
Another project, worth Rs 4.95 lakh, was given to Ranjana Kumari of Centre for Social Research (CSR).
But records examined by The Indian Express show that the results have been far from satisfactory.
> At least 16 research projects were approved in March 2013 for Rs 22-25 lakh on topics such as “Capacity Building in Sub-ordinate Ranks”; “Developing Women Police Leadership”; Challenges before Cyber Crime Agencies”; and Identifying Areas for E-governance — 11 of them went to serving or retired IPS officers. But 30 months on, these projects are yet to start because BPR&D has not been able to verify the credentials of the NGOs/ institutes involved. Wasan has now referred this issue to the Home Ministry.
> At least 42 projects were not completed despite a chunk of the sanctioned amounts, running into lakhs of rupees, having already been released.
> At least eight projects were scrapped for various reasons such as “non-progress of research.” Two of them were later given to waitlisted candidates.
> Files related to at least 10 projects are missing from the BPR&D. These were sanctioned to various researchers on behalf of NGOs, institutions and universities such as Chennai University; Academic Staff College of Srinagar; Amity University Noida; and Guru Jambheshwar University of Hisar among others. The BPR&D chief has directed officers to “fix the responsibility and inform” the ministry.
> In the case of at least 15 projects that were completed, the researchers’ dues were not paid or parts of the sanctioned amounts not released. These include projects in which the researchers are yet to be submitted the utilisation certificates.
> The final reports of at least 33 completed projects were submitted to the BPR&D but never evaluated. Over the last two months, they have been sent to various subject experts for evaluation.
When contacted by The Indian Express, BPR&D chief Wasan declined to comment on these findings.
Records show that one of the BPR&D projects, on “Police Leadership at district and SHO level”, went to former CBI chief Ashwani Kumar, on behalf of O P Jindal Global University, Sonipat (Haryana). But when the BPR&D sought status reports on the Rs 19.8-lakh project, the university on August 17 returned the Rs 12 lakh that it had received.
When contacted about the project, Ashwani Kumar told The Indian Express: “It was awarded to the university. I was one of the researchers. Later, my job was handed over to other researcher.” Y S R Murthy, registrar of the university, said it had written several letters to BPR&D to inform that Ashwani Kumar could not continue since he had been appointed Governor of Manipur (for a brief while in 2013) but did not receive any response.
Ranjana Kumari was allotted a project in March 2011 to study “Anti-Human Trafficking and Multi-Stakeholder Involvement in the Rehabilitation of Rescued Persons”. However, after a presentation was made on September 4, 2014, BPR&D noted that it was “not found up to the mark.” The bureau’s then chief Rajan Gupta recommended “scrapping of the project, recovery of released amount and blacklisting of the CSR for getting any further research”, the records show. Wasan has now sought an explanation from BPR&D staff “for not initiating action”.
Ranjana Kumari did not respond to requests seeking comment.
The Indian Express has examined records which show that BPR&D chief Wasan has sought explanations from his staff “for not initiating any action” on several such projects. In some cases, he has even sought disciplinary action against the staff.
In the case of private firms, records show that when BPR&D asked HR specialists Randstad recently about the progress of projects sanctioned, the reply was they could not proceed. According to records, IL&FS has been asked for an explanation for non-completion of a project, and Genesis had prepared just three films out of a proposed 85.
The BPR&D is also awaiting a response from IT major Wipro on a project while the MGSIPA has asked for more time.
Sources said that BPR&D has now recommended that the Home Ministry “call off” the projects sanctioned to Genesis Media Private Ltd and Randstad — the ministry has sought legal opinion.
When contacted, a Wipro spokesperson said the company would not comment on the issue. A spokesperson for Genesis Media Private Ltd said: “It is an agreement with BPR&D. We can’t discuss anything in the media as per the contract.” IL&FS and Randstad did not respond to requests seeking comment.
The BPR&D chief has also issued instructions to register an FIR against an NGO for alleged forgery and fraud, citing lack of progress on a study despite accepting Rs 13.71 lakh for the project, sources said.
In some of the projects, records show, researchers obtained an advance from BPR&D but then failed to register themselves under various universities as mandated. For instance, one researcher who was to conduct a study on “Problems Faced by Undertrial Prisoners” in 2011-12 submitted a request for change of topic this year. The researcher has been asked to refund the first instalment with penal interest.
There are at least 12 such projects where refund has been sought along with penal interest, sources said.
What is BPR&D?
The Delhi-based Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) is staffed by 47 officers in the capital and comprises six divisions: Research and Correctional Administration, Modernisation/Development, Training, Administration, National Police Mission and Special Police. The Research and Correctional Administration division conducts research to identify the “needs and problems of police services in the country”. It also facilitates training and research for the mordernisation of the force, with four regional offices imparting training to state-level police officers.