Unfazed by strong opposition, Home Minister P Chidambaram on Friday said the NCTC was the need of the hour as threat perception of terrorism continues to be high and delay in setting up the anti-terror hub will increase the risk in the country.
Chidambaram said the country needed an institutional mechanism by mobilising all elements of national power to tackle the menace of terrorism.
"Given the gravity of the situation, everyday we delay NCTC, we increase our risk," he said, addressing a meeting of the Consultative Committee of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The home minister said Naxalism and insurgency in the North East were now becoming "terrorist in nature" and the country needed institutional mechanism to deal with it.
"We need to counter terrorism not just as a police operation but we need a counter-terrorism organisation that mobilises all elements of national power; diplomatic, financial, investigative, intelligence and police.
"Therefore, we need a counter-terrorism body like NCTC or similar organisation," he said.
Chidambaram's remarks came days after the Centre faced strong opposition from several chief ministers, including United Progressive Alliance ally and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, on establishment of NCTC at a Conference of Chief Ministers.
The chief ministers, who opposed to the idea, had claimed that it would hurt the federal structure of the country and infringe on the states' powers.
This had led the Centre to declare that it would go into the concerns of the states on locating NCTC in the Intelligence Bureau and deciding on its operational powers.
The home minister said the central government was committed to ensure perpetrators of terrorist activities and their masterminds and conspirators are brought to justice and that prosecution and sentencing to the fullest extent of the law is ensured.
Chidambaram explained that apart from subversive activities of militant groups in North East and violence perpetrated by left wing extremist groups in some states, the growing concern remains on combating cross-border terrorism.
He said that counter-terrorism structure in place consists of Multi Agency Centre (MAC) and Subsidiary Multi Agency Centres (SMAC), National Investigation Agency (NIA) and National Security Guards (NSG).
"Those being put in place are NATGRID and Crime and Criminal Tracking Network System (CCTNS). The Centre for Counter Terrorism is not in place," he said.
Chidambaram said the policy of the government was to undertake intelligence-based operations to neutralize terrorist, espionage cells or modules and this is done in a coordinated and sustained manner by the central and state security and intelligence agencies.
"As a result of the coordination action by the central and state intelligence and security agencies, 51 Pakistan-backed terrorist, espionage modules have been detected, neutralised in various parts of the country," he said.
Some MPs, at the meeting, expressed concern over growing terrorist activities and cross-border terrorism and smuggling and circulation of fake currency notes.
They emphasised the need for a strong mechanism to deal with terrorism which has now taken global dimensions and some members suggested early finalisation of NCTC in this context.
Member also suggested stopping of Hawala funds and expressed concern over spread of opium and other drugs and growing terrorism in Punjab, linking it with Pakistan and suggested strong measures to counter these.
Answering queries of members, the home minister said there are only two terrorist bomb blast cases which are not completely solved as yet -- Delhi's Mehrauli bomb blast case of March 2010 and Varanasi's Sheetala Ghat case of December 2010.
Chidambaram told the members that Scheme for Modernisation of State Police Forces (MPF) is being reviewed and extended by the central government beyond March 31, 2011, and work for conceptualising the next phase of the scheme has also commenced.
He said from 2009 to 2011, under the MPF Scheme, 745 new police stations have been constructed. In addition, 17,824 vehicles, 26,465 bullet-proof jackets and 1,07,786 weapons have been provided to the state and UT police forces.
Integrated Action Plan (IAP) is being implemented with series of developmental schemes to deal with poverty in Naxal-affected areas, he said.
Members of Consultative Committee who attended the meeting include H K Dua, Mohd Ali Khan, Vinay Katiyar, Bhisma Shankar alias Kushal Tiwari, D B Chandre Gowda, Thokchom Meinya, Mahabal Mishra.
Ministers of State for Home Affairs Mullapally Ramachandran and Jitender Singh were also present.