Friday, September 30, 2011

Assam's Forest Guards and Workers Quit Over Unpaid Salaries

An Indian one-horned rhinoceros in Kaziranga National Park

It has been recently reported that forest guards and workers of Assam's national parks have quit their jobs because the state government has not paid them their seven months' salaries. Many of these employees come from Assam's top national parks. These include the famed Kaziranga and Manas National Parks, both of which are World Heritage Sites. Others include Orang National Park, Dibru Saikhowa National Park, Nameri National Park, and the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary. Many of these wild places house some of the rich variety of wildlife in northeast India, including its iconic creature the Indian one-horned rhinoceros. But now, they have lost a great deal of workers who are crucial for the protection of these majestic beasts against poaching. Kaziranga has already lost thirty people, and more are expected to follow. In Orang National Park, 25 out of 68 guards and 45 casual workers left. One forest guard explained how the government kept making promises about paying him and others their funds in August, but switching to days before holidays such as Eid and the Durga Puja. As a result, neither he nor anyone else received their salaries. Assam's State Minister of Finance Rockybul Hussain said that the delay for funds is a recurring problem every year. He further added that it has to be removed from the finance department, but the procedure is long. However, he said that the situation is not as critical as it seems, since there are permanent staff members present in these national parks.

My opinion about this news is that it is definitely critical for the lives of both workers and the wildlife. Without the forest guards, the wildlife in these wild places are vulnerable to the threat of poachers. Some like Kaziranga and Manas National Parks are labeled as World Heritage Sites, and if poaching continues to ravage, then they will lose their prestigious status. Incidentally, the last few days had seen high activity in poaching in the parks. But now, with more and more forest guards quitting their jobs, it will allow poachers to gain advantage. I deeply feel that the state government of Assam should respond and act fast before any of this goes further. It has been said that before the festive seasons of Diwali, Durga Puja, and Dussehra, poachers try to make their fast money through their illicit activities. This is why the situation is crucial. The lack of manpower in protecting the biodiversity of Assam is the same as in any other region. With forest guards giving up their positions, they are making way for poachers to do what they do best.

No comments:

Post a Comment