As many as 157 contractual employees of the Palamu Tiger Circle (PTC) are going without salary for the last five months and are on the verge of starvation. These contractual employees do highly sensitive duties like wireless operation, tiger protection , fire protection, wild life tracking and are in a way the back bone of the PTC.
President of Jharkhand State Van Shramik Union Siddhi Nath Jha, who works on contract in PTC said, "Going without salary for the last five months has rendered the whole lot of 157 personnel a broken force in a place which is dotted with challenges and difficult tasks."
The employees have a number of demand including early payment of months salary, regularization of services in the cadre of third and fourth grade as per the qualification, Rs 10 lakh insurance cover for life, contract money per month should not be of 26 days excluding Sundays but of 31 days a month for all round the year as these contract employees work more than 8 hours a day every day and hike in contract money for skilled employees who handle sensitive work like wireless operation, tiger protection, tiger tracking, anti-fire management and computer operation.
Conservator-cum-field director of PTC S E H Kazmi confirming the non-payment of contract money for the last five months to 157 contractual employees said, "No one can say their demands are not just. They have worked and have a right to salary as per contract."
However, Kazmi lamented that the PTC has no wherewithal. "We take interest free loans from the Jharkhand State Forest Development Corporation (JSFDC) and then pay the contract money to these people. This time we could get a loan of only Rs 5 lakh. It is hardly for a month. When offered to these people going without wages for five months, which they declined saying it would further sink them in miseries as they will not be in a position to clear all their debts to grocers, tea vendor and others."
Jha reiterated that wages pending over the last five months must be paid to them in one installment.