LAHORE - Punjab plans huge funding for law and order, raising the police allocation by an unprecedented 48 percent during the next fiscal year.

The provincial government yesterday proposed Rs145 billion for fiscal year 2016-17 under the head of law and order. The planned spending has been jacked up from last year’s Rs94 billion.

The much-hyped project - Punjab Safe City Authority - will get Rs44 billion during the next financial year. At least six big cities of the province including Lahore, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Multan, and Bahawalpur are part of the project.

During its budget estimates presented in the Punjab Assembly, the government proposed an allocation of Rs145.46 billion for the police department against the last year’s allocation of Rs94.67 billion.

In 2014, the government had allocated Rs81.68 billion for the country’s largest law enforcement agency. Similarly, only Rs 62 billion had been allocated for the police department in 2012-13.

‘Safe Cities’: The provincial finance minister yesterday announced a record raise for the law enforcement agency as compared to last year’s budget for the police, allocating another Rs44 billion to secure major cities.

Under the Safe City Project, the government is planning strict surveillance of miscreants and offenders by using modern tools including CCTV cameras. Punjab Finance Minister Dr Ayesha Pasha claimed yesterday that the project of comprehensive surveillance system would be completed in Lahore by June 2017 and other five big cities of the province by December 2017.

“A high-tech surveillance system with an estimated cost of Rs 13 billion has been launched in Lahore in the first phase,” claimed Dr Pasha, adding that it would be completed by June 2017.

“This project will be completed in other five big cities By December 2017,” she said in her annual budget speech.

As part of the initiative, the minister said, Punjab cities will be monitored through modern control rooms and latest security cameras. The scheme will help eliminate street crimes from the society, the minister believes.

Dr Pasha said that the incidents of terrorism have dropped to a considerable extent across the province as authorities noted 67 percent decrease in such cases. “It is the dream of every Pakistani that Thana culture should be changed and policing must be reformed. In addition to traditional police force, we are raising specialised units like Dolphin Force, Police Response Units, and Specialized protection units,” said the minister.

The minister said that the Dolphin police force had been raised to counter street crime in Lahore during the fiscal year 2015-2016. The street crime dropped drastically due to this police unit. Therefore, during the next fiscal year, this police patrolling unit would be expanded to eight more cities including Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Multan, Sialkot, Jhang, Sargodha, and Bahawalpur.

The government also plans establishment of “Reception Rooms” in all the police stations of the province. 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 in all police stations of the province to facilitate the visitors and complainants.

Police will use billions of rupees for massive expansion and re-equipping to deal with rising internal security threats, sources told The Nation.

Additional funds would be utilised to equip the police with latest weapons and technology besides providing best training to the policemen, the sources in police department said.

However, Lahore police would consume more funds as compared to the other districts while major chunk of the grants would be used under the head of fixed salaries. Talking to The Nation, Lahore DIG Operations Dr Haider Ashraf said that the additional funding and more resources would help the department build police capacity, both in terms of expertise and number of personnel.

“We are building specialised units and imparting best and modern training to officers before deploying them at stations. The expertise and resources will surely improve policing in the province,” the DIG added.

RS 9.93B FOR JAILS: The Punjab government has allocated Rs 9.93b for jails and convict settlement for annual budget 2016-2017. 

Whereas the same amount during last year during 2015-2016 was Rs. 7.52 billion and estimated amount was Rs.6.54 billion a budget document said.

Above mentioned budget is non-development while development estimated budget for the current year is Rs10063.092 millions as compare to the last year’s estimated budget Rs7640.461 millions and revised budget was Rs6,661.120m.

As per bifurcation of non development budget Rs 98 million are kept for direction, Rs4.656 billion for central jails, Rs4.96 billin for district jails, Rs73 million for lock ups, Rs122 million for jails (Manufactures) Central jails, Rs1.78 million for jails (Manufactures) district jails and Rs20 million  has been proposed for works.