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A year on, plan to help police get tech-smart remains only on paper

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The project was to be a collaboration between IIT-Delhi and a police research unit; stakeholders blame bureaucratic hurdles for delay.

New Delhi: A project to provide technical support to policing — much the same way that the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has been doing for the Army — has been stuck for a year, allegedly because of bureaucratic issues.

The project was to be a collaboration between IIT-Delhi and the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D), a unit that conducts research in policing.

In 2017, the two organisations had proposed to set up the National Police Technology Development Centre (NPTDC) at the IIT campus, where experts could research on areas such as cyber crime, disaster management, intelligence that would help the police.

But with almost a year gone, not much has moved beyond the project being on paper.

“Eight verticals were defined for internal security purpose, all related to technology intervention for policing. These include smart policing, operation management, gadgets and sensors among others,” said a professor from IIT-Delhi heading the project. “A complete detailed project report (DPR) was sent to ministry of home affairs (MHA) about a year ago but the file kept moving back and forth. The project still remains on just paper.”

He blamed bureaucratic issues for the delay.

“We have not got any update from MHA so far. There was a change of MHA secretary in between, then the head of BPR&D was changed and the file is stuck in all these bureaucratic issues,” the professor said.

The DRDO model

The police technology development centre was to be modelled on the way the DRDO helps defence units. Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju had even called for accelerating the setting up of the technology centre, at an event to discuss modernisation of police in December last year.

“The Army can rely upon DRDO for all the support, but what about police. The idea behind having the police technology centre is aid police, if not on a daily basis, but at least on a case-to-case basis,” the professor said.

“For example, on cyber security, a regular policeman does not have an idea on the latest technology or how they can deal better with the cases. This is where researchers would intervene and suggest ideas,” he said.

The other area where the centre would provide help is disaster management. From training the policemen on how to react when they have to deal with a disaster situation to what equipment they can use would be a part of the intervention.

While IIT and BPR&D blame bureaucratic issues, the MHA did not comment on the delay.

An official response to a query in this regard from MHA read, “Now it is coming up as a part of modernisation division of BPR&D with open interface for all tech institutes including all IITs.”

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