214th Report on ‘Working Conditions in Border Guarding Forces is released.
• A committee headed by P. Chidambaram presented its Report on Working Conditions in Border Guarding Forces (Assam Rifles, Sashastra Seema Bal, Indo Tibetan Border Police and Border Security Force), to the Rajya Sabha.
• Out of the seven Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs), four CAPFs namely Assam Rifles (AR), Border Security Force (BSF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) are the Border Guarding Forces (BGFs). This report is about these four BGFs.
Key Findings in the Report:
• Issue related to clean water: Nearly 82% of Border Outposts (BOPs) of the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), deployed along the inhospitable and rugged China border, do not have access to clean drinking water.
• Non-Connectivity: Over 40% Border Outposts are unconnected by road.
• Lack of Electricity: There are 177 BOPs of the ITBP, of which only 24% have a regular supply of electricity. The rest (76%) are dependent on generators.
• Other issues: The report highlighted several structural and functional issues like personnel management, pay and pension, lack of basic amenities and medical facilities, grievance redressal mechanism, and the procurement of arms, ammunitions and combat-ready equipments among others.
Recommendations for Improvement:
• There should be location and geography specific systems of purchase, procurement and provision of food items to be followed by all the forces.
• The Ministry of Home Affairs should evolve an inspection mechanism comprising of dieticians, experienced food inspectors and officials not belonging to the Force for surprise checks of the quality and quantity served in various forces, especially at the remote and inaccessible locations.
• Ministry of Defence should adopt a bottom-up approach to calculate varying rates of Ration Money Allowance for every battalion, taking into consideration the supply chain constraints, geographical limitations, vagaries of climate specific to every battalion.
• The Ministry should put an end to the issue of multiple forces being assigned the task of VIP security.
• Appropriate measures need to be taken in a timely manner to augment the strength of SSG to enable it to cope with the enhanced responsibility.
• Ex-servicemen status and Martyr/war widow status: There should be no difference in the benefits (Martyr/War Widow status) being granted to CAPFs personnel and Defence personnel for their supreme sacrifices made for the nation.
• The nature of duty of CAPFs is more similar to the Armed Forces rather than Police Forces. Mechanism of lateral induction of the Officers from the Armed Forces in the CAPFs on short-term deputation may be explored.
• There should be well-defined policy regarding the number of battalions that are, at any given time in a state of rest and recuperation.
• The Ministry of Home Affairs should expedite the completion of the ongoing housing projects to improve the satisfaction levels among service personnel.