Mumbai: Home Guards disappear from women's coaches
Around 2,000 Home Guards who have not been paid for past seven months, forced to take a 'break'
Around 2,000 Home Guards deployed for railway security, especially inside the women's coaches during late-night hours, have stopped reporting to duty since Tuesday over payment issues.
Millions of women passengers travel daily on the local route from Central Railway's CSMT to Khopoli, Kasara and Panvel and from Western Railway's Churchgate to Dahanu. For their safety, the railway police was supported by Home Guards, mainly at ticket counters, platforms, railway foot overbridges, railway track crossings, and inside women's coaches at night.
The state government has fixed an annual budget of Rs 175 crore for these Home Guard personnel, which has not sufficed, leading to a financial crisis.
Director General of Home Guards Sanjay Pandey told mid-day, "We are for the government to increase the amount of funds since we have already crossed the designated budget limit. We are speaking to authorities."
"With the help of all the resources, I am taking all precautions to ensure passenger safety," said GRP commissioner Ravindra Sengaonkar.
Not paid for seven months
A Home Guard personnel is posted on duty in each of the three women's coaches of a 12-coach local train from 8 pm to 6 am. A total of 700 such personnel are deployed in women's coaches in total. About 2,000 others are deployed daily across Western Railway and Central Railway. GRP has a total of 17 police stations, with 50 to 60 home guards allotted to each police station daily.
Every Home Guard personnel was supposed to get at least 15 days of work in a month and thus ensure a monthly earning of around R15,000 to R18,000.
Home Guard Kedar Kadam, 44, told mid-day, "I have been working for the Home Guards Department for 17 years but I have been given a break now and not been paid for the past seven months. It has become difficult to run my family expenses now."
More than 10k posts empty
A Home Guard official said that about 4,000 more Home Guards are deployed across Mumbai and their services are particularly availed during Ganpati Festival, Dahi Handi, politicians' rallies etc.
In Maharashtra, 54,400 home guard posts are approved but 45,000 are filled. These staff used to get R400 per day initially but this was revised to R670 per day from April 1, 2019.
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