The Assam government will adopt a new policy for allotment of personal security officers (PSOs) to rationalise their deployment so that they do not become a status symbol for individuals and politicians, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Saturday.
Sarma also said facilities of allotment of government accommodation and security cover for former chief ministers at par with the incumbent will be removed, though the new rule will not be applicable for current ex-CMs of the state.
Addressing a press conference after the year’s first Cabinet meeting here, Sarma said, “We have decided to have a new policy for deployment of PSOs in the state. Except for those in constitutional posts or in positions which require security cover, there will be screening by a security review committee for allotting PSOs.
PSOs are assigned to individuals, politicians and government officials whose lives are under threat. “PSOs cannot become a status symbol. Security needs will be categorised and depending on the requirement, the PSOs will be allotted,” he said. The chief minister had recently spoken out against allotment of PSOs, terming it a ‘Congress culture’ and maintained that BJP leaders don’t need such security cover as they have not indulged in wrongdoings or harmed anyone. The state Congress had then dared Sarma to surrender his own security cover.
Currently, four battalions of the Assam Police, numbering 4240 personnel, are engaged as PSOs, with half of them allotted for security of politicians, Sarma said. “We want to bring this figure of over 4,000 PSOs to at least half now. Gradually, with permanent peace in the state, PSOs won’t be required at all,” he said. The number of vehicles in the CM’s convoy in Guwahati will be brought down to seven or eight from the current 22, he said.
“The police must ensure a secured city for not just the chief minister, but all citizens. We want to reach a situation where the CM will be able to move in the city without any security,” Sarma added. The Cabinet also decided that no former chief minister will be allotted government accommodation or security cover equal to the incumbent CM anymore.
Sarma said, “This decision will not impact the current former CMs like Sarbananda Sonowal or Prafulla Kumar Mahanta. They will continue to enjoy these facilities. It will come into force once I step down and will follow my successors." Some key decisions regarding employment generation were also taken at the Cabinet meeting and their details will be shared later, he said.
Sarma also dwelt on the achievements of his government in the last eight months, claiming that the state was in a robust financial position, as large investments have come in capital and social sectors. He said economic growth had been fast in the last year and the state was on track to achieve Rs 4 lakh crore GDP this year. “By 2026, Assam should end up with Rs 6 lakh crore GDP if we can ensure an annual growth rate of 10 per cent,” Sarma added. The chief minister said attaining self-sufficiency in various sectors, with agriculture, horticulture and dairy being among the major ones, was an important goal set by his government.
-With PTI Inputs