The ghost of ‘Call off Call On’ is returning to haunt the home guards in the state from December 1. The department has decided to implement the ‘Call off Call On’ again from next month, even as the home minister Narottam Mishra had assured the guards that the scheme would be done away with in the state.
Around 14,000 home guards are giving their services in the state, these personnel are deployed only for a period of 10 months in a year, while for two months, they have to look for other jobs to earn their livelihood. For their 10-month services, the home guards are paid honorarium and not salary.
Amidst a pandemic in April, the DG Home Guards continued the services till August end. And again the DG gave another extension from September in wake of the bypolls in the state. The government did not want any issue during the elections so the services of the home guards were continued.
While inaugurating the SDERF Headquarters campus on June 9, the home minister had announced that the home guard jawans would get regular honorarium and be freed from the ‘call off call out’, system in coming days.
Again on May 14, a delegation of the home guards personnel met the minister expressing concern that the DG may restart the ‘Call Off’ scheme. The minister had assured the jawans that they would not be removed and their services would be taken round the year. Despite the minister’s assurance, the implementation of ‘Call off Call On’ scheme from next month had left the personnel feeling cheated.
The budget constraint
Simhastha was organised in Ujjain in the year 2016 and around 3000 volunteers were appointed to assist in managing the affairs in the mela. Ahead of the 2018 Assembly elections, the chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had announced that the volunteers deployed in the Simhastha will be merged in the Home Guards services. However, the decision added to the department's financial burden. Earlier, the department having 11,000 jawan strength used to get a budget allocation of Rs 260 crore. And after induction of the volunteers in the department, its budget was raised to Rs 300 crore. But to pay the honorarium to its 14,000 jawans for 12 months, the department needs Rs 360 crore.