Personnel deployed in cities like Pune, Nagpur, after state government clears dues of Rs 100 crore
State ropes in home guards to help cops 'under stress'
In a major relief to the police personnel working round the clock to successfully enforce the national lockdown over the Coronavirus pandemic, the state government has called back home guards, who were relieved of their duties last year owing to lack of funds.
As many as 5,000 home guards have joined the police officers in cities like Pune and Nagpur to contain the spread of the deadly virus. More are expected to join in the next few days to assist the state police.
The home guards pressed into service after the state administration made a request to the department on Tuesday.
Of the 53,000 approved posts for home guards in the state, at present nearly 43,000 are filled.
Last year, Sanjay Pandey, the director general of Home Guard and Civil Defence, had asked the state administration to stop assigning work to home guards after the state failed to clear their dues citing financial crisis. The Home Guard personnel get work for around 180 days a year and are paid '670 every day.
Pandey told mid-day, "Now that the majority of the dues has been cleared, the home guards are back in service. We are making arrangements on the basis of requests for manpower from the administration."
Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh told mid-day that the state has cleared '100 crore out of the '130 crore dues. "Once the Coronavirus crisis is sorted, the issues of the Home Guard department will also be taken on priority and addressed at the earliest," he said. Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, who also holds the finance portfolio, is also keen on resolving this issue, Deshmukh added.
A senior officer from the Mumbai police commissioner's office, on condition of anonymity, said home guards should immediately be called in as it will provide a major relief to the policemen who are under tremendous stress.
"This is a time of crisis and everyone should bury their differences and work together to fight the health crisis, especially help policemen on streets to ease their workload," the officer added.
Sign up for all the latest news, top galleries and trending videos from Mid-day.comSubscribe