The security of Golconda Fort will be entrusted to ex-servicemen recruited by the government under a pilot initiative in collaboration with the Centre. The retired army personnel are set to take charge on May 1 this year. At present there are 30 dedicated private security personnel guarding the monument which is under ASI’s custody. That apart, 35 ASI employees mainly tasked with assisting tourists and upkeep of the fort, also double up as security men owing to shortage of dedicated guards. ASI officials admit that the existing numbers are insufficient and there is a need for atleast 60 dedicated security persons to adequately cover just the main fort area. Under the latest scheme, 24 ex-servicemen will be posted at Golconda for providing security in addition to assisting tourists. The scheme called Tourist Facilitation and Security Organization (TFSO), is a central government initiative conceived over three years ago to prevent attacks on tourists. The objective is to post a dedicated force of ex-servicemen at select monuments in the country where local police presence or existing security mechanism is inadequate. Tourism officials said these retired army personnel from Hyderabad and Rangareddy districts are hired through the Zilla Sainik Welfare Officers. Of the total recruits, 21 people will be posted as guards while two senior recruits will supervise the rest. One person will be designated chief warden to oversee the entire security setup.
It was in 2011 that the state government had written to the centre asking for such a force at Golconda. The centre approved the request in January last year and sanctioned Rs 33.3 lakh to the state as its share for one year. The state, which has to pitch in with an equal share, made allocations for the amount in this year’s budget. As of now Golconda Fort is the only monument in the state where such a force will be posted on a pilot basis. “After much procedural delay and salary negotiations last year, we have been able to rope in retired army men. They will be given hospitality training before posting by May 1,” an official from the tourism department said.