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Govt to rethink weapons purchase procedure

mumbai Updated: Jul 16, 2011 01:37 IST
Sayli Udas Mankikar
Sayli Udas Mankikar
Hindustan Times
Sayli Udas Mankikar

A day after home minister R R Patil complained about the time-consuming procedures involved in procuring weapons and equipment, the home department has decided to do a re-think on the same.

On Friday, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan also conceded that the procurement process was affected by red tape, which was one of the reasons why closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras, recommended after the 2008 terror attack, were yet to be commissioned.

Annually, Rs 6,500 crore is spent on procurement of weapons for the police force.

"We will be reviewing the procedure and see how it can be simplified. There has to be further decentralisation of work," said minister of state for home, Satej Patil.

Interestingly, the procedure was reviewed right after the 26/11 terror attack and the purchasing powers were delegated to the director general of police (DGP). He was given powers to purchase equipment up to Rs 25 lakh per unit, without consulting the home department. For purchases above Rs 25 lakh, a committee comprising government and police officials and headed by the additional chief secretary (home) was formed.

But senior home department officials point out that this system is not working. Certain aspects of upgradation of the police force, planned after 26/11, are still pending. Key among these is the procurement of modern weaponry for the force.

In the present process, the DIG (planning and coordination) sets the plan for the department, which is tabled before the screening committee. It then goes ahead for a nod from the planning and finance departments, after which a budgetary provision is made. After this, the technical specifications of the equipment are drawn and tenders called for.

Once the supplier is decided, he gives a demonstration, after which, a bulk order is placed. The consignment is tested once again. Finally, the payment is made and the purchase bill is sent to the treasury.

"We had a meeting where we thought that district level officers like the superintendent of police should be given powers for smaller purchases," Patil said.

The decentralisation of purchasing powers had been avoided so far over fears of purchase scams and to ensure some kind of uniformity in purchases. Earlier, there have been instances of the commissioner of police and the DGP placing orders for different kinds of weaponry, raising doubts about the cohesiveness of the police force.

Regardless of what change is proposed by the government, the home department will have to approach the legislature and get the procedure amended, as it did in 2009.