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Guards leave Assam parks - Homeguards, casual workers quit because of non-payment of 7 months’ salary

 


THE TELEGRAPH
Pullock Dutta
Thursday , September 29 , 2011

Jorhat, Sept. 28: Security at the national parks in Assam has come under threat with a large number of homeguards and casual workers engaged there leaving their jobs because of non-payment of salary for the past seven months.

The forest department could not give the actual figure of how many homeguards and casual workers had left Kaziranga and other national parks in the last few days. Park authorities claimed that the personnel were leaving every day, many of them without informing them.

“Till a few days back, 30 had left and more are set to leave,” a Kaziranga official told The Telegraph today. Altogether 175 homeguards and 100 casual workers are engaged at the park and security at the home of the one-horned rhino is heavily dependent on them. Kaziranga has 525 permanent workers.

Kaziranga director Surajeet Dutta said homeguards and casual workers were regularly protesting and threatening to leave if their salary was not paid.. “I have taken up the matter several times with the headquarters but nothing has happened so far,” he said.

At Orang National Park, considered to be a miniature Kaziranga, the situation is worse with 25 of its 68 homeguards and 45 casual workers leaving in the last couple of days. The park employs 80 permanent workers.

The situation is not different at Dibru Saikhowa and Nameri national parks and Pobitora wildlife sanctuary.

The development comes at a time when the national parks are under tremendous pressure from poachers, who are making frequent attempts to kill rhinos to make easy money just before Durga Puja.

Rhino poaching increases just before the festive season. Only a few days back, forest guards were engaged in gunbattles with poachers at Kaziranga and Orang. Four poachers were killed and arms and ammunition recovered during these gunfights. At least six poachers have also been apprehended from Kaziranga in the last few days.


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