Directors-General of Police from several states have warned Home Minister Rajnath Singh that the government’s decision to slash central funding for state police forces could hit their combat capability in insurgency and terrorism-hit states, Ministry of Home Affairs sources have told The Indian Express. Police chiefs have also warned that the cuts will hit plans to modernise the forensics and investigative skills of their forces.
The cuts to the centre’s Modernisation of Police Fund (MPF), will slash about Rs 800 crore from funding for key police infrastructure—construction and upgrading of police stations, police housing, forensic science laboratories and training facilities.
MHA sources said the nine states affected by Maoist insurgency, which in 2013-2014 received assistance Rs 74 crore to train special forces, another Rs 119.65 crore to build fortified police stations, and reimbursements of security-related expenditure of Rs 207.08 crore, are expected to the worst-hit by the cuts, along with insurgency-torn states in the North-East, and Jammu and Kashmir.
The cuts to the MPF were announced in the Union Budget as part of an effort contain the fiscal deficit. Now, state governments will be expected to provide their own funds for these elements of police modernisation, through the additional 10% share of central tax revenue they were granted by the Fourteenth Finance Commission.
But experts are warning that states, already struggling even to meet salary bills, are unlikely to enhance budgetary allocations for police infrastructure. “Long-term investments in police capacity don’t influence voters”, said former Jammu and Kashmir Police Director-General Gurbachan Jagat, “they’re not going to be first on any politician’s list”.
Former Border Security Force Director-General Prakash Singh concurred. “There’s a chance relatively progressive states, like Kerala or Tamil Nadu, might step up to base”, he said. “But I see no prospect that the states most in need of police capacity-building are going to be paying for it”.
Last year, the MHA had sanctioned Rs 797.06 crore for state police Plan expenditure, a level its Annual Report for 2014, the last available, states was to be maintained until 2016-17.
The MHA had also sanctioned Non-plan expenditure—to be used for weapons, mobility platforms and technology acquisitions—of Rs 1,928 crore in 2013-2014, and had committed to provide Rs 1,640 crore for 2014-15 and 2015-2016.
Non-Plan funding is set to continue, MHA officials say, though at levels of around Rs 900 crore. However, a senior officer in the Maharashtra Police said, non-Plan spending may be of little use unless matching Plan-sector infrastructure is built. “There’s no point getting state-of-the-art guns unless we have campuses to train our personnel, and decent accommodation for them to sleep in”.
Indeed, in a confidential study carried out for the Ministry of Home Affairs in 2010, consultants Ernst and Young had called for the expansion of the MPF, saying that the existing spending had filled only “limited gaps compared to the actual requirements of the Police Forces”. The scheme, the report concluded, “should not only be continued but also provide for larger funding to all the states in its endeavour to truly modernise the Indian Police Forces.”
The report underlined the fact that expansion of police forces nationwide had increased housing shortages, leading to “a decreased level of satisfaction among the police personnel which thereby impacts the standards of service delivery”. “An increased funding through the MPF scheme will also lead to a more efficient and motivated police force safeguarding the citizens of India”, the study said.
Police budgets in most states, MHA documents seen by the The Indian Express show, are committed to the extent of over 90% on salaries alone—leaving forces struggling to even cover fuel and maintainance bills without central assistance. Indeed, utilisation of the Modernisation of Police Fund has been hit by the inability of state governments to pay a mandated share—ranging from 50% to 10%.
In a 2010 analysis of police modernisation funding, serving Border Security Force officer Om Shankar Jha noted that state governments’ inability to release even their share of the MPF often meant “the tender formalities can not be completed in time and budget is not utilised in the same financial year”.
“The Prime Minister says he wants the states to have modern, technology-driven and trained police forces”, the Maharashtra Police official said. “He’s right—but who is going to pay for it”?