Maharashtra Government is embarking on a major police recruitment drive and plans to induct 15,000 personnel soon to augment the force facing challenges like terrorism and Naxalism.

“The government will recruit 15,000 police personnel soon so that the burden on the existing force reduces a bit,” Home Minister R R Patil said on Sunday.

He was talking to reporters at the inauguration of a police gymnasium at Naigaum, central Mumbai.

The Minister said his government will offer full co-operation for the welfare of the police force.

“We will undertake necessary measures regularly for the benefit of the police force and their family members,” Mr. Patil said.

Emphasising on fitness of policemen, he said, “it is important for you all to remain healthy both physically and mentally so that you can perform better and give your best. We will be opening up more such gymnasiums in the city to ensure proper fitness.”

Echoing similar sentiments, Mumbai Police Commissioner D Sivanandan said, “During appointment the fittest and healthiest are selected but within a few years policemen tend to put on weight and develop health problems like high blood pressure and heart diseases.”

Mr. Sivanandan said the weight-gaining trend among policemen was mainly due to erratic work timings and irregular diets.

The Commissioner assured that under his leadership, he will continue to work for the upliftment and betterment of his force by opening up more such gymnasiums, schools, library, and free medical check-ups, among others measures.

Talking about the future plans, Mr. Sivanandan said a five-star kitchen would be set up within two months for Mumbai Police and nutritionists would be roped in for guidance.

Police personnel on bandobast duty will be given meals in tiffins from the kitchen, he said.

“There is a proposal worth Rs 18 crore for setting up schools at various locations in Mumbai, where children of the policemen can get quality education at a nominal fee,” Mr. Sivanandan said.