Faced with state governments earmarking a meagre 4 per cent of their budget on police, Home Minister P Chidambaram nudged chief ministers on Sunday to raise allocations and told them there was no substitute to “putting more men and women on the streets”.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who inaugurated the day-long meet of chief ministers on internal security, stressed the same point.
“A very basic prerequisite of any internal security system is an adequate number of policemen who are well trained,” Singh said, lamenting there hadn’t been adequate progress.
Chidambaram noted the positive aspect — 1.1 lakh policemen have been, or will be, recruited by this March — but drew attention to 1.5 lakh vacancies that remain.
“I think the real problem behind tardy recruitment is the failure to provide adequate funds under the head ‘Police’,” the home minister said, pointing out that Rs 44,354 crore was earmarked for police in 2009-10, an increase of 21.7 per cent.
But about 75-80 per cent of this amount goes in salaries, leaving very little for training, weapons and modernisation.
Chidambaram also pointed to the sluggish increase in the number of police stations.
In the first nine months of 2009, India added only 175 police stations, he said. Those that exist are poorly manned. There are rural police stations in Madhya Pradesh that are manned by only 12 personnel.
Police reforms in the states also tell a story of slow progress, he said.
Prodding the chief ministers to show more interest in policing issues, Chidambaram asked them to visit the Subsidiary Multi Agency Centres that will be networked by May.
“Strengthening the security system requires more than a vision. It requires more than a plan. It requires hard work. Actually, it requires sustained hard work and eternal vigilance,” he said.
P Chidambaram sent a clear message to Ashok Chavan, interjecting when the Maharashtra CM called for stronger laws to deal with people making provocative statements, a reference to the Shiv Sena’s campaign against migrants and Shahrukh Khan. The home minister said curtly that the problem wasn’t with the law. The law is stringent enough, he said, reminding Chavan that “the entire country expects you to take firm action”.