IN A move that hints at the eventual phasing out of Maharashtra Home Guards, the DG Home Guards last month wrote to the state government, seeking to move home guards meeting the necessary criterion to the Maharashtra police. Sources said with the force staring at a financial crisis and lack of vision regarding its role, it was thought to be much more prudent that its manpower be taken over by the police and disaster management cell.
The state government on Wednesday announced that the 53,000-strong force should cap their annual expenses at less than Rs 175 crore, which is seen as downsizing the force in a big way. An official said, “As per orders passed last year, home guards have to be paid Rs 670 per day and have at least 180 work days in a year. For this to be applicable to the 53,000 employees, it would cost over Rs 600 crore annually. We have been told to cap the annual expenses at Rs 175 crore. Given the shortfall in cash, the force looks at a bleak future.”
Sources said under the current budgetary provisions, at the maximum home guards will be able to get employment for a maximum of two months every year. “However, all these calculations will come into being after the current deficit of over Rs 130 crore is taken care of. If this is not cleared, we will not be able to pay salaries of home guards,” the officer said.
Another problem facing the home guards is lack of vision. “In states like UP, home guards are used to man traffic and also help out in the control room. In Maharashtra, home guards are only used as providing security in trains and in some districts assist the police. It is not seen as adding any value to the existing police machinery. The trend so far has been that officers that the state police wants sidelined are sent here,” the officer said.
“Rather than just pushing it along, it would actually make sense to transfer some officers who meet the necessary criterion to the police while some others who have the required training be transferred to the disaster management cell that is struggling for manpower. The manpower would be better utilised,” the officer added.
When contacted, DG Home Guards Sanjay Pandey said, “We have recently received monetary compensation from the state and are hopeful of some more budgetary grants in the future.”
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