Only a fraction was used for lack of planning on part of Home Ministry officials and coordination among various agencies

Home Ministry officials have failed to fully utilise funds allocated for crucial projects aimed at boosting India’s national security preparedness. Otherwise, anti-terror infrastructure projects such as the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) and the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS), which P. Chidambaram conceived when he was Home Minister, would have been running full steam ahead.

In the Union budget for 2012-13, the then Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, allocated huge funds for the NATGRID and the CCTNS. But only a fraction of the sum was utilised what with lack of planning on the part of the Ministry officials and coordination among various agencies.

For example, the NATGRID, Mr. Chidambaram’s pet project, was allocated Rs.364 crore in the current fiscal, but only Rs.11 crore was spent. It was launched after the Mumbai terror attacks to improve counter-terror capabilities by linking 21 data sources from 11 intelligence agencies.

As for the CCTNS, aimed at linking 14,000-plus police stations and 6,000 police headquarters for information-sharing, the Ministry had spent Rs.193 crore in 2011-12. As against an allocation of Rs.400 crore in the current fiscal, the Ministry budgeted a mere Rs. 85 crore for the project. Though the CCTNS’s central architecture was inaugurated in January this year, it will be years before the project is rolled out nationwide, say police sources.

Tardy progress

Though these crucial projects make a tardy progress, Mr. Chidambaram, now Finance Minister, has not made any major cut in the allocations in the 2013-14 budget; he increased the share for the National Investigation Agency (NIA), formed to probe terror cases.

For the next fiscal, Rs.66 crore has been earmarked for the NATGRID, and Rs.276 crore for the CCTNS.

On the contrary, the NIA has made use of its funds. It spent Rs.37.58 crore in 2011-12, and the allocation increased to Rs.72.76 in the current fiscal. For 2013-14, Mr. Chidambaram has jacked it up further, to Rs.103.87 crore. But he has not allocated any separate funds for the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), also his idea which has met with stiff resistance from the non-Congress Chief Ministers.

The overall allocation for the Home Ministry in the 2013-14 budget has been pegged at Rs.59,241 crore, an 18 per cent increase. While Rs.1,847 crore has been earmarked for modernisation of the State police forces, Rs.789.08 crore has been given to the States for security-related expenditure, Rs.74.15 crore for creation of special infrastructure and Rs.160 crore for construction of fortified police stations in the Naxal-affected States, and Rs.1,526.84 crore for building residential quarters for Central police organisations.

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