Multi-Agency Centre fully operational, next step to link states: Chidambaram


New Delhi : Refurbishing the terror combat infrastructure after the Mumbai terrorist attacks, the government has made the Multi-Agency Centre (MAC) fully operational, Home Minister P. Chidambaram said Saturday, adding that the next step was to extend it to states and special branches of state police establishments.

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“The MAC is fully operational. All agencies have nominated their representatives and I was happy to learn that all agencies have found the arrangement extremely beneficial,” the minister said at a press conference marking his two months in the home minister’s post.

The MAC is tasked with collecting intelligence in real time, to optimise intelligence flow and to coordinate between different agencies.

“The next step is to connect MAC in the states and the special branches of the state police establishments. Work has been taken up to create a dedicated network and establish connectivity and a database.”

The government has sanctioned Rs.1.47 billion (Rs.147 crore) to the Intelligence Bureau for the next phase.

Chidambaram who took over Dec 1 last year has set for himself a scorching pace of 150 days to put in place critical strategies and strengthen intelligence systems to thwart further attacks.

Detailing the steps taken by him in the last two months, the home minister said the task at hand was to ensure that proper equipment, weaponry and communication systems were procured for police and paramilitary forces to meet the challenges of new-age terror.

“The financial powers delegated to the directors general of paramilitary forces and the director of the Intelligence Bureau have been significantly enhanced. This will enable the heads of these organisations to speedily procure vehicles, arms, ammunition, machinery and clothing,” he said.

Orders to procure 20,000 bulletproof jackets for paramilitary forces and 5.66 mm carbines for the Border Security Force (BSF0 and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) had been placed. The same had been procured for Rs.1.84 billion and delivery would be completed by April.

The home minister has conducted a personal review of each of the seven paramilitary forces to assess their needs, shortcomings and how best to utilise them for their optimal functioning.

In addition, the government had approved the raising of an additional 29 battalions to augment the strength of the BSF on the India-Bangladesh border, said Chidamabaram.

Besides, approval has been granted to create seven more sector headquarters and three more frontier headquarters.

In addition to working on ways to thoroughly overhaul policing along the shores, Chidambaram said proper coordination among the navy, coast guard and police was important for strengthening security along the country’s over 7,500 km coastline.

“The original schedule to procure 204 boats for coastal security has been compressed. Goa shipyard Limited has compressed the schedule by six months. Delivery of boats will begin in April and completed by March 2011.”

The home minister also pointed out that the next national census and the National Population register was scheduled to be completed by 2010-11.

“Multipurpose National Identity Cards (MNICs) will be issued thereafter. Considering the urgency of the matter, we have decided to take up the work of issuing MNICs to the people living in coastal areas in all nine coastal states and four union territories by 2010.

“In addition the entire population of Andaman and Nicobar Island will be issued MNICS by 2010. Pilot schemes will be in launched next month and the entire scheme will be rolled out and completed in a year,” he said.

He also detailed the steps taken by him on the Island Development Authority, security revamp in Maoist violence affected states and the modernisation of prisons.