Thiruvananthapuram: A severe fund shortage faced by public hospitals in Kerala has stymied a Kerala Police plan to deploy State Industrial Security Force (SISF) to beef up security for healthcare personnel.
The state police had proposed the deployment of the SISF at government hospitals while responding to a query in this regard by a division bench of the Kerala High Court, which was considering the shocking murder of Dr Vandana Das on the premises of Kottarakkara Taluk Hospital on Wednesday.
The SISF charges Rs 1,500 per day for deploying a gun-holding police officer. The rate, however, varies with the ranking of the personnel to be deployed on duty.
The cost of deploying private security officers at government hospitals is currently met using the funds set aside by the Hospital Development Committee. The majority of these officers are ex-servicemen and their payment is generally fixed at Rs 1,000 per day.
While the Hospital Development Committees at the Medical Colleges may be able to meet the cost of deploying SISF personnel from their income, the District, General, and Taluk hospitals would find it difficult. Often a bulk of their respective hospital development funds are expended on the maintenance and development of the hospital infrastructure.
Now, a way out to provide SISF cover without financial burden for public hospitals is a special order from the State Government.
SISF at Kochi Metro, High Court
The deployment of SISF personnel in the Kochi Metro and at the Kerala High Court has been executed through special orders by the government. Though security to the Kochi Metro was initially provided on a commercial basis, the government later brought out an order to offer the service free of cost till 2025, with the metro rail suffering continuous operational losses.
The Kochi Metro currently owes around Rs 100 crore to the SISF, sources claimed.
The service of SISF is currently availed by several banks and a few other private enterprises in the state on a contract basis. The state-run KSEB too has deployed 40 SISF personnel on a commercial basis.
While the State Government has allotted 3,119 posts in the SISF, only 1,005 police officers have been allotted to the force so far. As many as 2214 posts are lying vacant. The recruitment to SISF is made from various armed battalions of the state police on a deputation of three years. The average age of SISF personnel varies between 22 to 25 years.
As per the service contract, the salary and other benefits of the personnel to be deployed will have to be provided by the companies that avail the service. Whenever such deployments take place, the number of vacant posts is reported to the Public Service Commission to carry out recruitment from the rank list.
The state boasts an array of hospitals in the government sector including 14 Medical Colleges, 18 General Hospitals and 18 District Hospitals, 49 Taluk Headquarters Hospitals, and 39 Taluk Hospitals.
The government is yet to bring up a uniform system for recruiting security personnel to these hospitals. Neither has it made any attempts to provide adequate training to these hospital security units.