By Bizodisha Bureau, Bhuabaneswar, January 2, 2018: The Odisha government on Tuesday gave a New Year gift to 18,000 home guards by enhancing their duty call up allowance from Rs 240 to Rs 300 per day.

The move follows a day after announcing a hike in stipend for house surgeons of state-run medical colleges and hospitals.

Basing on a proposal from Director, Civil Defence Bijay Kumar Sharma, the Home Department notified the hike in the allowance of home guards. According to a notification of the Home department, Home Guards will now get Rs 300 as Duty Call up Allowance per day.

Home Guards have been agitating for regular appointment, increase in wages and other facilities.

Home Guards are not regular employees and are not entitled to monthly salary. They are paid on daily allowance basis.

“We are working towards giving the home guards a status of dignity because they are such a crucial part of policing in the State,” Sharma said.

As per the Home Guard Act, these personnel are entitled to get remuneration on par with the induction salary of the constables which is Rs 9,000. This enhancement in allowance will take them close. In Telangana, home guards get about Rs 20,000, while it is Rs 15,000 in Punjab and Rs 14,000 in West Bengal.

The Directorate of Civil Defence is planning to raise the strength of the force to 21,000 besides giving them specialised training in rescue operations. At present, about 20 per cent of police drivers are home guards while they manage traffic, PCR vans and also man CCTNS work at police stations.

Currently, priority is accorded to providing them with a changed uniform with better clothing material, belt and shoes to improve their appearance which is necessary to give them a position of respectability.

Sharma, who has issued a circular to SPs to treat the home guards with dignity, has also planned a training programme for the personnel this month. “We will impart training for under-water rescue operation at Ramchandi where the Fire Services wing has a training facility.” he said.

After skill-upgradation, the home guards would be placed at fire stations. At least two to three home guards could be deployed at each fire station as part of the auxiliary force. These teams would be the first responders in case of accidents, natural calamities and other mishaps.

The Directorate of Civil Defence has also supplied 2,000 blankets for home guards across the districts. However, the blankets are being sent to district police offices but in sealed covers with the name and address of the recipients. This has been done to ensure that the blankets reach the home guards.