Left with no choice, the temporary employees of the Pakke Tiger Reserve (PTR), under the banner of the Pakke Tiger Reserve Workers Union, had to resort to a ‘no pay, no work’ strike on Wednesday after being denied their salaries for the last many months. Earlier, the staff of the Namdhapa Tiger Reserve too had made similar complaints of non-release of their salaries. This is very unfortunate. Most of the employees working in these tiger reserves are contractual employees and their salaries are meagre. Adding to their woes, the environment and forests department never pays them salaries on time.
This despite the fact that these employees take great risks in carrying out their duties. They spend the majority of their time in the jungles, patrolling and surveying the area. Many of them have been attacked by poachers and wild animals too. These people put their own lives at risk in order to protect the tiger reserves. It is a well-known fact that the tiger count has improved in the PTR due to the hard work of these temporary employees. The forest department should be ashamed of itself for failing to pay them their salaries on time. The people working on the ground should always be given first preference. Conservation activities cannot succeed if the government fails to respect these warriors who constantly battle in the field for a better future for the state and humanity. The government should develop a mechanism to ensure that in future their salaries are paid on time.