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Budget 2016: Will CCTNS gets Finance Minister Arun Jaitley eyeball?

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In the two consecutive budgets of 2014-15 and 2015-16, no funds were allocated for CCTNS project which seriously hampered its progress. But in the wake of the recent Paris attacks, the government has decided to fast track the project and complete it by March 2017. So, now it has to been seen how much funds are being allocated in the Budget 2016-17 for this project of national importance.

By Mohd Ujaley

In October 2009, the Kolkata police arrested a person and held him in prison for 45 days in connection with a petty theft case and then let him off with a fine of Rs 90 because there was no means of verifying the false name—Md. Arshad—that he gave at the time of his arrest. According to The National Investigation Agency (NIA), he was none other than Mohammed Ahmed Zarar Siddibappa, also known as Yasin Bhatkal, an alleged Indian Mujahideen commander, who is alleged to have subsequently carried out terrorist attacks in Pune, Bangalore, Varanasi, Delhi and Hyderabad.

Would this have happened if there was a system in place to fetch real time data about crime and criminals? Possibly not. That is why in 2009 in the aftermath of the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai, the UPA government launched the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS) project aimed at digitally connecting all the police stations in the country and digitising all existing FIRs and other crime records. Once digitised, intelligent insights could be drawn by analysing the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data.

Former Union Home Minister P Chidambaram who sanctioned the project was of the view that each police station was an island, where records were maintained manually. The police of any state barely “talked” among themselves, or with the police of other states. Therefore, “a seamless, technology-driven network in which any police station could “talk” to another police station in real time, was needed.”

Supporting the views, Ajai Sahni, Director of the Institute for Conflict Management in New Delhi, told Express Computer, “CCTNS is one of the single most critical project for India’s internal security. Networks like these are a fundamental requirement of modern policing and security management. And, this system is already in place in west since the 1970s.”

However, since the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the project on June 19, 2009 with an allocation of Rs 2000 crore, nothing substantial has changed on the ground. Like other e-governance programmes in the country, CCTNS is also shuffling between central nodal agency NCRB, and the nodal agency of states, State Crime Record Bureau (SCRB) and private system integrators (SIs) from the last five years.

In fact, in the two consecutive budgets of 2014-15 and 2015-16, no funds were allocated for CCTNS which seriously hampered the progress of the project. But in the wake of the recent Paris attacks, the government seems to shake off the dust, and has now decided to fast track the project and complete it by March 2017. So, it has to been seen how much fund is being allocated in the Budget 2016-17 for this project.

The initial deadline for the project was 2012, which was revised to March 2015. Initially, Rs 37.23 crore were given in the 2012-13 Budget and Rs 120 crore in the 2013-14 Budget. Of the Rs 2,000 crore outlay that includes operation and maintenance up to March 2022, Rs 878 crore has already been released to implementing agencies.

According to latest data from NCRB, over 11,600 police stations across the country are now using the CCTNS system to register FIRs and over the past one year, more than 26 Lakhs FIRs were registered through CCTNS.

The target to complete the project by March 2017 will largely depend on how smoothly the CCTNS project shuffles among the centre, states and system integrators, and gets the required attention from the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Budget 2016-17 to address the challenge of want of funds.


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