State appoints Senior IAS officer to rein in Private Security Firms
Kolkata: In a bid to regularize the largely unregulated private security industry in Bengal, the state has appointed a senior IAS officer as the controlling authority under the Private Security Agency (Regulation) Act 2005. Pritayu Mandal, additional secretary in the state (Home) department, will be responsible for issuing licences to security agencies working in the state. Additionally, lack of licences will now attract penal action against security agencies. According to rough estimates, among the 1,500-odd private security agencies working in Bengal, around 700 have state issued licences. Sources said the primary reason for not applying for licences is to duck the statutory payments (provident fund, ESI and minimum wages) and recruiting untrained staff. “According to state norms, if one were to adhere to all statutory payments, the monthly salary of a private security personnel would be over Rs 10,000. Very few agencies pay that,” an officer said. Moreover, the licensing rules also include recruitment and training norms, which will be subject to periodic checks. “This will ensure that the agencies employ only trained manpower,” the officer added. Mandal, a 2006 IAS officer from the Himachal Pradesh cadre who joined the Bengal government on an inter-state deputation, has already met Satnam Singh Ahluwalia, secretary general of Central Association of Private Security Industry (CAPSI), Bengal. Ahluwalia said, “We had a meeting with the controlling authority, along with a senior police officer who will be acting as the security coordinator. The developments are very positive. The state was keen to understand the industry dynamics and has sought suggestions from us.
This will go a long way to weed out unlicensed agencies and make security firms accountable to their clients and the people they employ. We welcome this initiative sources said IGP (personnel) H K Kusumakar will be coordinating for the police. The state has a set of rules to issue licences, but sources indicated it is keen to expedite the process. The state rules make it mandatory that the agency owners and their employees should have a police clearance. The state also mandates a 100-hour classroom training and 60 hours of field training in a 20-day period for people to be recruited. It also puts stress on security supervisors with law enforcement and armed forces background to be employed by the agencies. It is only then that the state issues the first licence with a three-year validity and provides renewals for a five-year period. “Lack of clarity had earlier resulted in protracted delays in renewing licences. The primary reason for the delay I was the police verification. This issue is likely to be resolved soon,” said a source. After receiving an application, the controlling authority can make inquiries. Police must issue an NOC, after which the controlling authority will decide whether to grant or reject licence in two months. Private security agencies can commence work within six months of getting the licence. Times View: This is one sector where some amount of regulation is needed urgently. Hopefully, this will lead to both better service for those who employ security guards as well as better pay and working conditions for security guards.
Fever Pitch: Dengue, Malaria & Typhoid overtake Rain in Hyderabad
Hyderabad: Though the monsoon has been playing hide-and-seek over the city since its outset, the diseases it harbingers are spreading fast. Most government-run hospitals in the city, along with the private facilities, have seen a spurt in monsoon-related diseases such as dengue, malaria and typhoid. Osmania General Hospital (OGH) is seeing 2,700 new patients per day, which is way more than what the hospital received before the beginning of monsoon. At Fever hospital, 1,400 patients are visiting every day from the city as well as districts. Most patients have fever, body ache, respiratory and throat infections. “Till now in July, we have got 221 patients with viral fever, of which two were diagnosed with dengue and one with Chikungunya. We treated 105 patients for diarrhoea, 49 for tonsillitis, 15 for jaundice and 94 for enteric fever,” said K Shankar, superintendent of Fever Hospital, adding that there were receiving about 1,000 to 1,400 patients daily. He said that before the start of monsoon, the figure stood at 600-800 patients per day. Doctors at Osmania General Hospital (OGH), too, said that their out-patient department has seen a sudden rise in patients, complaining of symptoms of vector-borne and monsoon diseases. “On Wednesday, 2,582 patients were treated. On an average, the OPD is seeing about 2,700 new patients daily,” said B Nagendra, superintendent of OGH. He said that on an average they were getting about 5-7 dengue patients every month and cases of viral fever also have been on the rise.
Man Spots Skimmer at Ayanavaram SBI ATM
Chennai: A 45-year-old man who on Wednesday went to withdraw money from an SBI ATM at Ayanavaram found a data skimmer and a micro camera attached to the machine. After R Gopi Krishnan of Ayanavaram complained, bank and police officers removed the devices. The case has been transferred to the bank fraud wing of the Central Crime Branch. Police are checking CCTV camera footage from places near the ATM on Constable Road in Ayanavaram to identify suspects. When Gopi Krishnan inserted the card in the slot, it got stuck. However, he managed to pull out the card. He then asked two women waiting for their turns to use the machine to try their cards. Their cards also got jammed in the slot. When Gopi Krishnan tried to pull their cards out the skimmer came off. He also noticed a micro camera attached above the keypad. Gopi Krishnan then approached the Ayanavaram police. “The CCTV camera installed on the ATM premises was not functioning. It helped the miscreants to install the skimmer,” said an investigating officer. Following the incident, police have asked public to check ATM machines for any skimmer devices before inserting their cards. A skimmer is a device used to steal credit and debit card information. It is usually accompanied by a micro camera installed above the keypad to record the PIN of the unsuspecting user. Police said fraudsters make new debit cards using stolen data and use them in other states to withdraw cash. They usually target ATM kiosks without security guards. It takes less than a minute to install a skimmer, police said.