Lakhs of stressed-out central paramilitary force personnel guarding the borders and fighting terrorists or Naxals should be able to finally get their due.
In line with the principle of equal pay for equal work, the Union home ministry has moved a proposal for allowances ranging from 25 to 45 per cent to Central Para-Military Force (CPMF) personnel serving in difficult areas. The proposed allowances are aimed at bringing about a semblance of parity with financial incentives enjoyed by members of the armed forces posted in difficult areas.
For instance, it seeks to give ITBP personnel posted at extremely high altitudes the same allowance as army personnel posted at similar heights. Last year, the Cabinet had raised the allowance for army officers serving at posts between 14,000 ft. and 19,000 ft to Rs 5,600 per month and Rs 3,734 for other ranks.
The proposal is grounded in Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil’s conviction that lakhs of central police personnel deployed as the first line of defence on the borders or in fighting Naxals in dense forests or jungles lead as difficult a life as army personnel and deserve similar treatment.
CPMF personnel are given just one-fifth of the Hard Area allowance and High Altitude allowance that army personnel are paid. Unlike army personnel, they do not get any allowance for serving in border areas. “A draft Cabinet note to rectify this situation has been moved for seeking comments of the ministries concerned. The note will be finalised soon in the light of the comments received,” a senior home ministry official told HT .
The home ministry has estimated that the incentive plan will cost the exchequer Rs 200 crore – a small fraction of the Rs 11,000 crore the government spends on CPMFs every year.
Former BSF chief Prakash Singh said it was only fair that the government extends allowances to paramilitary forces as well in view of the arduous nature of their duties.
Said a BSF official, “Our men neither get the perks nor the facilities that their counterparts in the army are entitled to. It does seem unfair.”
“This proposal is exclusive of the recommendations of the Pay Commission that was in any case unable to appreciate the nature of duties of the paramilitary forces,” a senior Home Ministry official associated with the proposal said.
Most CPMF personnel hardly have any peace posting to return to after serving in hard areas. “After a stint in the Thar desert, we can only send the jawan to guard the border in J&K or Bangladesh - from one hell to another,” said a BSF officer.