Bhubaneswar: The Covid-19 pandemic and unattractive remuneration for vehicles to be hired and human resources have apparently poured cold water on the state government’s plan to launch highway patrolling in the state as directed by the Supreme Court in 2019.
The state police neither could appoint the special police officers (SPOs) nor could it succeed in attracting bidders to supply vehicles for patrolling on the selected highways.
The stretches of national highways earmarked for patrolling include Bhubaneswar-Puri, Manguli-Sambalpur, Sambalpur-Rourkela, Jaleswar-Ichhapuram and Sambalpur-Sohela.
The state police, in March, had released the advertisement seeking applications from retired police officials for 119 SPO posts on contractual basis to man the highway patrolling vehicles after getting approval from the state government.
However, it had to release a fresh advertisement in September this year as none applied for the SPO posts.
According to sources in the state police, retired staffers aged above 60 years showed no interest in the post due to the pandemic and low remuneration.
“Who would like to risk his life for Rs 15,000-odd salary during the Covid-19 pandemic,” questioned an official.
Similarly, he asserted that the vehicle owners also did not show any interest provide their vehicles to Odisha police because of lower monthly rentals. The state government had earlier fixed around Rs 30,000 as monthly charges for hired vehicles. “Why anyone would allow its vehicle to run 24X7 for a paltry sum of money?” he questioned.
The state police has recently issued another fresh bid to procure 36 highway patrolling vehicles.
However, the police will be able to attract bidders this time due to the increase in monthly charges to Rs 70,000 as compared to the earlier Rs 30,000, claimed the officer.