Contingency workers of Assam’s Pakke Tiger Reserve go on strike
More than 200 contingency workers of the Pakke Tiger Reserve in Arunachal Pradesh went on an indefinite strike from Wednesday over non-payment of wages since December 2020.
The 862 sq.km. tiger reserve in Pakke-Kessang district has been left unguarded as all of the 202 workers, together with their eight elephants, converged on the tiger reserve’s administrative workplace to demand their wages for the final six months.
“Our strike was scheduled from May 2 but was withdrawn after the Environment and Forest Minister [Mama Natung] promised that the wages would be released. We can manage somehow, but all of us have families to maintain with the meagre wages we get,” Pakke Tiger Reserve Workers’ Union basic secretary Nikum Nabam mentioned.
Other than fee of the wages of the employees beneath Project Tiger, the union has demanded the regularisation of the Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF), a rise of wage final revised in 2018 to ₹11,000 per 30 days and month-to-month payout as a substitute of periodic disbursement.
The Pakke contingency workers got their wages from April-November 2020 after the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) had sanctioned ₹6.05 crore for 2020-2021 fiscal and launched a component of it.
“The second instalment of ₹1.32 crore was released in January but the money is lying in the State exchequer instead of being transferred to the Divisional Forest Officer of our tiger reserve for disbursement of wages,” Mr. Nabam mentioned, including that the workers have been borrowing or surviving on meagre donations.
Mr. Natung mentioned the workers ought to have waited two-three days for his or her wages.
“There were no officers to handle their wages due to the COVID-19-induced emergency situation. But the process has been started and they should get their wages in a few days,” the Minister informed The Puucho from State capital Itanagar.
Green activists recalled the same state of affairs two years in the past that led to the discontinuation of companies of 53 frontline employees within the 1,895 sq. km Namdapha Tiger Reserve, India’s easternmost, in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh.
“It is a pity that NTCA has focussed on tiger reserves in Assam, including Nameri Tiger Reserve adjoining Pakke. We know protecting the tiger habitats in Arunachal Pradesh is crucial for the conservation of the striped cat in India, but it is difficult to focus on empty stomachs,” a member of the Pakke workers’ union mentioned.