Acute shortage of houses for personnel of the paramilitary forces is causing them distress, as they are forced to stay away from their families for a long time due to the nature of their duty. Against the requirement of 2,70,560 houses for the paramilitary forces in the country, only 1,00,545 houses are available, and this translates to over 50% shortage of housing facilities. The “housing satisfaction level” among the forces is also low, standing at just 37%, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs’ reply to the Lok Sabha earlier this month.
The paramilitary forces have also raised concerns over the reduction of the land area allotted to the battalion. A senior BSF (Border Security Force) official told The Sunday Guardian on the condition of anonymity, “The government has slowly reduced the total area that is given to each battalion, from 85 acres of land to just 25 acres now. And in this much area, we have to have the administrative blocks, operational blocks, housing as well as training facilities. This also affects the training of the troops.” P.K. Mishra, former ADG, BSF, told The Sunday Guardian, “Housing has been a major concern among the paramilitary forces in the country. What the government is doing is that they are constructing barracks at troubled areas or non family stations for the troops, but what the troops need is housing for their families in family stations and none of the paramilitary personnel has any allowance for family accommodation.” He further added that, unlike the Army, paramilitary personnel do not get house rent allowance for their families, if they are kept at peaceful stations for better health and education facilities. However, the Ministry of Home Affairs said in the Lok Sabha that in the last three years, the ministry has constructed 9,896 houses and at present 26,775 houses are under construction, while 14,858 houses are in the process of sanctioning or tendering. Even then, the Ministry has accepted that, despite the completion of construction of all these houses, the “housing satisfaction level” among the paramilitary forces would still be a little over just 50%. A retired senior CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) official said, “Both the CRPF and the BSF, at most times, are posted at troubled stations and their transfers are very frequent; therefore, keeping their families with them is out of question. The government should ensure that these personnel are given allowances to keep their families at family stations for the sake of better education of their children and better healthcare facilities.” The government has said that it has approved the grant of House Rent Allowance to personnel below officer rank staying in barracks. The government has also accepted the 7th Central Pay Commission report for Common Risk and Hardship Matrix for Defence and CAPF (Central Armed Police Force) personnel.