Govt assures to release salaries of Pakke Tiger Reserve employees after protest but marks file to PCCF instead of finance dept

[Tongam Rina]

ITANAGAR, 10 Jun: After refusing to release the wages of the temporary workers of the Pakke Tiger Reserve (PTR) despite reminders from the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), the state government has finally given assurance that the wages will be released, following the ‘no pay, no work’ strike by the workers that had started on Wednesday in Seijosa in Pakke-Kessang district.

Two letters were issued on Thursday – one by the chief secretary to the PCCF and the environment & forests principal secretary, and another by the PCCF to the protesting workers under the banner of the Pakke Tiger Reserve Workers Union.

In his letter, Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar wrote to the PCCF that “immediate steps should be taken for release of all the due payment to the contingency staff by today… Further, a thorough inquiry should be conducted in the matter and responsibility should be fixed.” (Read letter here.)

As reported earlier, the NTCA had written to the chief secretary in March, seeking release of the fund sent by the Centre for the tiger reserve, which includes wages.

Ninety percent fund is received from the union government while Arunachal has to pitch in 10 percent. But that 10 percent is rarely paid on time, leading to delay in release of salaries, even after funds have been approved by the union government.

As is the practice, the fund is not released to the forest department directly, as it is routed through the finance department; therefore the chief secretary’s letter to the PCCF raises more questions than answers.

Meanwhile, the PCCF in a letter requested the workers’ union to withdraw the strike and get back to work as their wages are expected to be released within 15 days.

“Please know that the entire department and the state government have their greatest concern for the welfare of its frontline workers,” he said. (See letter.)

Meanwhile, the workers’ union sent a letter to the PCCF, stating that the workers called off their dharna at 3:30 pm on Thursday.

The union is seeking release of salaries of six months, regularization of jobs, and monthly release of salaries.

However, speaking to this daily, the union said it would resume its dharna from Friday, unless a verbal assurance is given to them in person regarding all three demands.