The cash-starved Punjab government is gearing up to deploy police to guard the civil secretariat by April-end, replacing Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) -- a move primarily aimed at saving Rs 30 crore, the annual bill of the CISF which the government has often been struggling to clear.
The finance department has calculated that the annual expenditure on the CISF deployment is “about Rs 25-30 crore”. This saving of annual expenditure on the CISF deployment will be used to fund “good policing”, flagship projects of the state police and to meet urgent/miscellaneous items of expenditure such as petroleum, oil and lubricants (POL), according to government sources.
During the last fiscal, the state police were reeling under a severe financial crunch. This had affected police personnel’s movement while being deployed on law and order duty. Even night patrolling or highway patrolling vehicles had to be grounded across the state with the inability of the finance department to sanction funds to foot the fuel bills of the police.
The decision to hand over the civil secretariat security to the state police was taken on March 12 at a meeting deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal had chaired to discuss the budgetary proposals of the police for this fiscal.
Finance minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa, additional chief secretary Jagpal Singh Sandhu, principal secretary (finance) Vini Mahajan, principal secretary (to deputy CM) PS Aujla, additional director general of police (intelligence) Hardeep Dhillon and ADGP (provisioning) Dinkar Gupta were among others present at this high-level meeting.
“Punjab police will fully take over the security arrangements of the Punjab civil secretariat from the CISF by the end of April,” according to the approved draft of the minutes of this meeting.
Now, to fast-track the matter, a deputy inspector general (DIG)-rank officer had been tasked to prepare the plan/report for a smooth takeover, sources said.
At the meeting chaired by the deputy CM, it was also decided that during the transition period of deploying Punjab police, officers from the CISF, Special Protection Group (SPG) or other paramilitary forces “could be taken on deputation, if required”. Otherwise, paramilitary officers already serving in Punjab police be deployed for the security of the civil secretariat, it was agreed.
Punjab police used to guard the civil secretariat until August 31, 1995, the day terrorists breached security and assassinated then chief minister Beant Singh along with 17 others in front of the civil secretariat, leaving the state and central security agencies red-faced. Then Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) had replaced the state police and since 2002 the CISF has been guarding the area.
The CISF also guards the Haryana portion of the civil secretariat.
As Punjab has either been delaying or failing to sanction the CISF deployment expenditure, in 2013, the CISF had also threatened to pull out its security personnel after the outstanding amount soared to Rs 22 crore.