NEW DELHI: Around 2,000 army veterans, employed as security guards in Delhi government-run hospitals, are staring at uncertainty owing to a proposal to replace them with men from private firms.
The Directorate General Resettlement (DGR) branch under the Ministry of Defence, which is responsible for ensuring welfare of retired army personnel, is currently in talks with the Delhi Government to find a solution to the issue.
It all started with the city government floating a tender to rope in private security contractors to guard the hospitals.
The plan will effectively deprive DGR to participate in the process, thus rendering these ex-servicemen jobless, said Col (Retd) Rathee, who is associated with a security agency under the DGR.
"The ex-servicemen come back home after serving their country for 15 to 20 years, and are dependent on such resettlement opportunities to support their family. The job as a security guard provides them with stability and income at such a crucial stage of their life," he added.
According to the DGR, the Delhi government is claiming that private security guards will come in at a much less cost as compared to ex-servicemen since a 14 per cent service charge is applicable in the case of the latter.
"Fourteen per cent of the gross wages paid to the security guards is paid to the contractor. The cost spent on maintenance of the office, security guards' wages is part of it. This is apart from the guards' salary. But under the new tendering process, they are talking about zero per cent service charge," said Col (retd) Ajay Ahuja, who is associated with a security agency under the DGR.
Tara Chand (45), who is posted as a security guard at the GB Pant Hospital, said that he is uncertain what the future holds for him and his family.
"I have been posted as security guard at this hospital for two years and earn Rs 20,000 per month. I have a big family comprising my wife, children, brother and father.
Somehow, we make ends meet with my salary and some other sources of income but I am worried about the future," he said.
A senior official of the Delhi government's health department said that a retired armyman came to meet him to apprise him of the issue and they are looking into the matter.
"A retired colonel came to meet me yesterday on this issue. We have deputed a special secretary on the job to look into the case. So let the report come in first," a senior health department official said.