Monday, August 1, 2011


1 Aug 2011


From Our Delhi Bureau

NEW DELHI: At a time when the scam tainted politicians, bureaucrats and corporate honchos are swarming jails and many more ending up there in the wake of the build-up against corruption and black money, the finance ministry has shot down the prison reforms, claiming it has no money to spare.

The Home Ministry had sought Rs 3500 crores to disburse to the state governments to undertake the Phase-II of prison modernisation, but the finance ministry put the scheme on hold for the time being “owing to heavy commitment of Government of India on other important sectors.”

This has been brought out in a parliamentary standing committee report tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Monday.

Under Phase-I of the scheme launched in 2002-03 with an
outlay of Rs 1800 crore to improve the condition of prisons, prisoners and prison personnel, 168 new jails and 1730 barracks were built, besides repairs and renovation of the existing jails, improvement in sanitation and water supply and construction of 8965 staff quarters for prison personnel.

The parliamentary panel that scrutinised the working of the Home Ministry was surprised at the discontinuance of the scheme. It sought a concrete action taken report from  the government on the panel's earlier recommendations on prison modernisation after the consulting state governments.

The panel led by senior BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu, which also includes Lal Krishna Advani and leaders of various parties, also found under-utilisation of funds meant for modernisation of traffc and communication network in Delhi during the Commonwealth Games. An amount of Rs 40 crores was allocated for the purpose, but just Rs 10.63 crore could be spent
and the balance appropriated for Delhi Police building programme.

The committees further expressed unhappiness at the delay in
installing management information system (MIS) for proper monitoring and concurrent evaluation of the scheme of modernisation of police forces.

The government had selected the state-owned CMC Ltd. to develop the software, but its technical proposal was felt too costly. The committee was told the government is now exploring an alternative which is less costly and user friendly.

The panel also noted that the lack of healthcare in the naxal-affected areas was another issue leading to dissatisfaction among the people. It called for special packages for providing health care both under the existing schemes as well as new schemes.

“New primary health centres and sub-centres need to be opened and it should be made compulsory for the new doctors to serve in these areas by giving some incectives to them,” said the committee report.


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