ITANAGAR, Jun 9: Slogans like ‘Hamare mange puri karo’, ‘Bachao, bachao Pakke Tiger Reserve ko bachao’, ‘No pay, No work’ reverberated in the skies of the otherwise tranquil environs at Seijosa as more than 200 contingency workers including the Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) personnel launched an agitation protesting non-payment of their monthly salaries/wages for last six months.
Altogether 202 contingency staffers of Pakke Tiger Reserve (PTR) engaged under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Project Tiger (CSS-PT) began their ‘No pay, no work’ strike from today. Even the mahouts along with their elephants converged at the protest scene to demand their pending wages.
“We are not protesting without reason. We haven’t been given our salaries since December last year. We all have families to feed,” said Nikum Nabam, the general secretary of Pakke Tiger Reserve Workers’ Union (PTRWU).
The union, on various occasions, had approached the higher authorities for release of their salaries as they claim that 132 lakh as second installment was received by the State Government from National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) on January 5 which is yet to be released to them.
“We even spoke to our higher authorities in the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests in Itanagar, who said that the fund is yet to be released even to them,” Nikum said.
He informed that the Environment and Forests Minister Mama Natung has assured to look into their demand, who reached to them through his OSD. “However, we haven’t received written assurance for the same. So, we will continue with our protest,” he asserted.
Other demands of the PTRWU are regularisation of the services of STPF jawans, enhancement of their salaries and regular payment of monthly wages/salaries.
“In Arunachal, all State Government departments’ casual labourers get monthly wages of Rs 18,000, but our boys toiling hard inside the jungles only get Rs 11,000-14,000 that’s too not being given on time. It’s our request to the State Government to clear our pending salaries within two-three days. If the Government gives an assurance, we are ready to resume our duties otherwise we will continue our agitation,” said one of the agitators.