LAHORE - Punjab Chief Minister’s Inspection Team has launched probe into the multi-billion “100 Model Police Stations” project to find out why the government has failed to complete the scheme and where the funds have disappeared.

The CMIT last week asked Punjab Police Inspector General Arif Nawaz Khan to submit a detailed report about the performance of these so-called model police stations. The Chief Minister’s team has been tasked with coming up with findings whether the much-hyped project was a flop show or it helped introduce any positive change on the ground.

Five years ago, Shehbaz Sharif had claimed at least 100 model police stations were being set up in 36 districts of the Punjab province. The chief minister stated that such police stations would be model with regard to their performance. The buildings of such model police stations had been designed with substantial arrangements for investigation.

Under this project, authorities believe, billions of rupees were spent to build state-of-the-art buildings and provide other facilities to policemen. As per the original plan, the model police stations will have digital operations room and latest tracking system to monitor the police operations round-the-clock. It was also planned that all the 26 Police Registers would be computerised with the help of software designed by the Punjab Information Technology Board.

Now, a DIG-rank officer has been appointed Liaison Officer by the central police office for collection and submission of the relevant record to the CMIT. The Team has also sought details of the funds provided to individual district police offices for the model police stations over the past five years.

According to some officials, the CMIT has also sought record of the monthly funds being allocated to such model police station in the province. The district police officers are directed to submit the five-year record of funds. Similarly, the police department will also submit record of police vehicles being used at model police station. Also, the CMIT has sought record of postings and transfers of Account Officers and Motor Transport Officers. The police department has also been directed to submit particulars of Station House Officers who are serving at such model police stations.

On the other hand, the policemen serving at model police stations are never paid salaries as they had been promised. Under the MPSs project, the government had proposed a monthly grant of Rs100,000 to station house officers (SHOs) in big cities in addition to Rs15,000 per month allowance.

“We are not a model. We are getting salaries like other police officials. No increase, no allowances and no benefits,” said a police officer, who is serving as SHO at a model police station in Lahore. The officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they had to beg notable of the area to run day-to-day affairs of the station because funds were not transferred to the police station.

This year, the government allocated a record amount of Rs95 billion for the police department but experts say they believe police stations could not get their share because most of the funds are consumed by the police hierarchy. And no one can question the powerful police how and where the funds were utilised.

Even, the department has yet to complete the computerisation of all the 26 Police Registers. What to say about the computerised system, a duty officer was seen writing an FIR on a plain paper by hand while another official was using a lead pencil to fill roznamcha (daily duty chart).

The PML-N government could be given the credit for building mega projects in a short span of time like underpasses and Metro Bus. But their leaders have completely failed to change the Thana culture. In their campaign manifesto, the ruling PML-N had pledged the much-needed police reforms to ensure justice for all in this society.

Police sources say model police stations failed to show extraordinary performance in fighting criminals during the previous five years. “Model police stations only exist on papers,” an official replied when asked about the working of such stations.

In 2012, the provincial government had planned establishment of 100 model police stations with the motto of making the police corruption free. The authorities had proposed at least 20 model police stations in Lahore, four in Sheikhupura, four in Sahiwal, five in Sargodha, three in Bahawalpur, four in Dera Ghazi Khan and 15 each in Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Gujranwala and Multan police regions.

The experts had estimated Rs 604 million for the MPS project having latest technology, including CCTV cameras, computers and investigations kits along with provision of smart phones to station house officers. Almost three years ago, the government, citing budget constraints, had shelved the plan to build at least 100 model police stations across the Punjab province. However, authorities had established some new buildings in different cities of the province for the project that was never made operational as per the design.

Out of total 76 police stations located in Lahore, at least 20 have been converted into model police stations.

Police officials say the department had to utilise the available funds for the model police stations. Each model police station was established with an estimated cost of Rs 1 million to Rs 1.2 million.

Instead of building one hundred model police stations, the government last year announced establishment of “Reception Rooms” at all police stations of the province. During her budget speech, the finance minister claimed that at least 374 police stations had been linked up with the online system throughout the province so far. During the next fiscal year, this system would be launched at all police stations of the province.