NEW DELHI: About 2,000 Army veterans employed as security guards in Delhi government-run hospitals face an uncertain future with a proposal to replace them with men from private firms.
The Delhi government has floated a tender to rope in private security contractors to guard the hospitals, creating a sense of insecurity for the men who stand to lose their jobs.
The Directorate General Resettlement (DGR) branch under the Ministry of Defence, which is responsible for ensuring the welfare of retired army personnel, is currently in talks with the Delhi government to find a solution to the issue.
The plan will effectively deprive DGR the opportunity to contribute in the process, leaving the ex-servicemen jobless, said Col (retd) S S 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 a crucial stage of their lives," he added.
According to the DGR, the Delhi government claims that private security guards will come in cheaper as a 14 per cent service charge is applicable in the case of ex-servicemen.
"Fourteen per cent of the gross wages of 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 guard's salary. But under the new tendering process, they are talking about zero per cent service charge," said Col (retd) Ajay Ahuja, who is also associated with a security agency under the DGR.
Tara Chand, 45, who is posted as a security guard at the GB Pant Hospital, said he is worried about what the future holds for him and his family.
"I have been posted as a 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. We somehow manage to 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 a retired armyman came to meet him to apprise him of the issue and they are looking into the matter.
"We have deputed a special secretary on the job to look into the case. So, let the report come in first," the official said.