Director-General of Home Guards and Civil Defence has submitted two proposals urging the state government to incorporate 49 of its fire officials into the state disaster management department while proposing that the civil defence be allowed to start a one-year post-graduation training course.
Set up in 1968 to assist and protect civilians in war-torn situations, like terrorist attacks and natural disasters, the Maharashtra Home Guards and Civil Defence’s control room reportedly has not received a single phone call seeking assistance in the last two to three years.
After the Central government implemented the National Disaster Management Act in 2005, all states were ordered to create disaster management systems that would participate in rescue and relief operations in cases of man-made disasters. Subsequently, the Maharashtra State Disaster Management Authority was set up. Municipal corporations across Maharashtra too set up fire brigades.
“As the civic administration is taking care of the work we were initially appointed to do, our control room is not getting any calls. So, the DG has submitted two proposals to get the 49 fire officials working again,” an official said. The voluntary force tasked as an auxiliary to the police initially had 160 fire officials of whom 111 had retired over the years, the official added.
The civil defence force across five districts — Mumbai, Thane, Raigad, Pune and Tarapur — has around 250 employees. Currently, there are 90 rotating emergency army pilots (jawans) in the rotating Civil Defence Squad of the Directorate of Civil Defence and 85 other workers that include eight sub-controllers, three assistant sub-engineers, clerks and other workers. Besides, it is equipped with fire extinguishers, emergency and rescue equipment, and more than 10 vehicles such as ambulances and troops careers. However, sources said, all these equipment were gathering dust for lack of service calls.
Also tasked to provide training to civilians and create volunteers from the general public to deal with an emergency situation, the Home Guards and Civil Defence force reportedly has not received any request for training in the recent years.
In 2019, the officials had visited different education institutions to train school and college students. More than one lakh students were trained under the initiative, an official said.
“Now we have decided to introduce a training course. Once the government approves, we plan to tie-up with the Mumbai University for the purpose,” the official added.
Sanjay Pandey, Director General of Home Guards and Civil Defence confirmed that the two proposals have been sent to the state government, but said they were yet to be approved.
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