The Punjab government will soon authorise cops to take money from people as the police have proposed to levy facilitation charges for various public utility services being provided at community police centres across the state.
The office of the director general of police (DGP) has sent a proposal in this regard to the Punjab home affairs and justice department for putting up the file concerned at the cabinet meeting for final clearance.
Confirming the proposal, Punjab principal secretary, home affairs and justice, DS Bains said the file was still with deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and the department would put it up at the next cabinet meeting once the latter gave final approval.
Sources, however, said Sukhbir, who also holds the portfolio of home affairs and justice, has already given in-principle approval for the charges. His suggestions about lowering certain 'stiff' charges have already been incorporated.
According to the police proposal, the Punjab government, during the 2010-11 financial year, provided Rs 30 crore for 96 community police centres and 88 police outreach centres functioning across the state.
The community police centres are connected with a common software and network and have been functioning since August 8, 2011.
However, services at these centres have almost come to a standstill in Punjab as the government has not been able to pay Rs 30 lakh for the main server, which facilitates connectivity and networking.
The police argued that in order to make these centres self-sustainable and financially viable, it was imperative to levy nominal charges for various public utility services.
The police stated that as per an estimate, a district-level community police centre incurred a monthly expenditure of nearly Rs 52,000, while the outreach centres at the police station-level spend Rs 32,000 per month.
About 270 police stations, which are operating from old buildings with the help of two computer sets each, are incurring a monthly expenditure of Rs 10,000 each.
The Punjab Governance Reforms Commission has also endorsed the police proposal, which pointed out that police community centres helped resolve issues pertaining to exploitation of women and children, senior citizens and also financial transactions which gave rise to disputes.
The facilitation charges would go into the kitty of the joint police public committees formed at community police centres, registered under the Societies Act, 1860, which authorises these committees to receive donations from private parties.
The police also proposed that as per the Act, accounts of these committees should be audited annually to ensure transparent functioning.