The modernisation of the police and the Backward Region Grant Fund (BRGF) - two important central schemes - are likely to stage a comeback in new avatars, probably with some assistance from the Centre. Both the schemes are intended to make targeted intervention in economically backward parts of the country, often the hotbed of Naxalite activity. The newly-designed schemes would be implemented till 2022. These were delinked completely from central support in the 2015-16 Union Budget and transferred to state governments, causing much heartburn between the Centre and the states. They accused the Centre of abdicating responsibility for two major schemes for improving law and order in the country. A committee of chief ministers, headed by Madhya Pradesh's Shivraj Singh Chouhan, constituted by the Centre to revamp the centrally-sponsored schemes (CSS) has directed the Union Ministry of Home Affairs to review the existing arrangements in the scheme to modernise the police and law and order apparatus. They have also recommended that the new schemes be implemented until 2022. It also suggested that the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog and the Union finance ministry could recommend area-based interventions in some of the states as special packages to take care of the state component in the BRGF.
In other words, the schemes would be formalised by the NITI Aayog and the finance ministry. The report of the committee with the suggestions was given to Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently. It was made public on Thursday. "Since many states recommended that the schemes for police modernisation and Backward Region Grant Fund… should be restored, the sub-group recommends that the Ministry of Home Affairs may review the existing arrangement regarding police modernisation, law and order apparatus including the executive magistracy and the justice-delivery system, coastline and coastal protection in the country and recommend a new comprehensive scheme in this regard to be implemented until 2022," the report said. According to the 2014-15 revised Budget estimate, the Centre granted around Rs 1,433 crore to the states for the National Scheme for Modernisation of Police Forces. That apart, another Rs 537.5 crore was given as non-Plan expenditure under the category of modernisation of police forces. The Plan part was entirely transferred to the state governments as part of restructuring of CSS, while the non-Plan part continued to be shared between the two. The sharing ratio was 90:10 between the Centre and the states for those classified under the special category, and 60:40 for the non-special category states, including those affected by Naxalite insurgency. The panel also disagreed with the notion that the central government's assistance to states had been reduced because of the higher devolution to states through the 14th Finance Commission. It said the Plan budget in 2015-16 has been reduced from Rs 5.75 lakh crore to Rs 4.65 lakh crore, whereas the provisional expenditure for 2014-15 stood at Rs 4.54 lakh crore. The sub-group's report also showed that the Union department of expenditure favoured a 50:50 fund-sharing pattern for all CSS, apart from lowering their number to 20 from 66. It also wanted discontinuation of special category status to states. Its recommendations, though, have not been accepted in the final report.
MAKEOVER SCHEMES UNDER FOCUS
- Backward Region Grant Fund
- Modernisation of police
- Targeted intervention in backward areas, affected by Naxalite activity
- To delink completely from central support, according to the 2015-16 Budget
- Review the fund-sharing arrangement between the Centre and states for these schemes
- Implement the newly designed schemes until 2022