The Green Police Force, flagged off with much fanfare nearly three years ago, seems to have outlived its utility.
On December 31, the Karnataka State Tourism department sent notices to district tourism offices, terminating the services of 89 daily-wage home guards, who had been deployed since August 2009.
The force was launched by former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa and former tourism minister Janardhana Reddy in July 2009. Its task was to ensure the safety and security of domestic and international travellers at major tourist centres.
The official reason for the termination — aside from the fact that the force was a drain on the department’s resources — is that it was not of much use.
The decision has left many green policemen in the lurch, including Bagalkot men such as Jagadish Mallapur, Shankar Hosur, Sharanappa Tumbaramatti, Suresh Gangal and H M Hombal — whose livelihoods have been sorely affected. Most are now reduced to running from pillar to post in Bangalore, in an attempt to plead their case with any official who will listen.
The group, which recently appealed to Tourism Minister Anand Singh to reconsider the revocation, said that being unemployed had taken a toll on them and their families. They also claimed that a return to their home department would not serve their needs. In addition, fervent attempts by the 89 guards to land a job in alternative organisations, including the Army, have not had much success.
Narrating their plight, Hosur told Deccan Herald, “As home guards, the government requires our services for 15 days in a year. With that money, it is difficult to sustain our families. When the Tourism department sought our services, we got job security. We could go back to our home department, but there is no guarantee when our services will be required.”
Refusing to buy their claims, Tourism Director G Sathyavathi said the home guards belonged to the Police department and were not ‘dependent’ on the Tourism department.
Washing her hands off the issue, she added that they were hired on an experimental basis.
“The concept was ill-conceived as there was no monitoring of the Green Police’s attendance. Nor was there a clear policy defining their roles and responsibilities. There were complaints that they were not reporting for duty,” she said, citing her own instances on trips to Mysore when she found personnel absent from work.
According to Sathyavathi, the department was in the process of introducing these aspects in the Karnataka Tourism Trade Facilitation Act, 2012. “There are more security and safety issues at tourist centres. We should have a definitive plan to address these problems.
The Green Police did not have powers under the Indian Penal Code or the Criminal Procedure Code.”
The department has, so far, spent Rs 33.45 lakh on the force, which had been deployed in 30 locations across various tourist destinations in the State.