‘No point deploying marshals in wedding halls’

A marshal suggested creating mobile squads for random checking

Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) marshals are unhappy with the Karnataka government’s decision to deploy them at wedding halls and other gatherings to ensure that guests are adhering to COVID-19 protocols. Many said it was neither feasible nor economical.

Speaking to The Hindu on condition of anonymity, a marshal said that deploying them at wedding halls and events was not practical for operational efficiency. COVID-19 protocols of frequently sanitising and washing hands and wearing masks are being enforced in events and weddings held in five-star hotels and resorts. “However, we find that maintaining social distance is largely ignored by most citizens during these gatherings,” he said.

He added that instead of deputing marshals at wedding halls, it would be better if mobile squads are created, at least one in each zone in the BBMP. “We already have a list of prominent places, including wedding halls, in each ward. These mobile squads could conduct surprise checks, issue warnings and collect fines from violators,” he said. This, he maintained, would cause lesser financial burden on the BBMP, as it would require deployment of fewer personnel.

Civic chief N. Manjunath Prasad said the deployment of marshals would act as a deterrent. “Marshals deployed at the entrance can verify if the wedding hall owner or event organiser is doing his/her due diligence, failing which they can levy a fine of ₹10,000, as prescribed by the State government,” he said.

BBMP sources said the civic body had a total of 238 marshals, including ward marshals and those deployed in Indira Canteens. That apart, there are 54 special teams, each with four marshals, working in two shifts in the 28 Assembly segments in the city. After deductions, including Employee State Insurance (ESI) and Provident Fund (PF), each marshal gets around ₹17,000. The civic body’s spend on marshals is around ₹1.5 crore a month, which is mostly recovered by way of fines levied on violators, sources said.

Meanwhile, the term of the 54 special teams is limited to March 31. These 216 marshals cannot be retained after this date. “However, their deployment may be extended depending on the number of COVID-19 positive cases being reported in the city,” according to a source.

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