Ranchi, Oct. 8: Over 1,000 forest guards and rangers working on contract basis to guard pristine green lungs and precious wildlife have a reason to rejoice ahead of Durga Puja as the state forest department is learnt to have worked out a “temporary loan” to clear their three months’ wages.
Chief wildlife warden of state A.K. Mishra said all the casual workers would receive three months’ salaries in the next couple of days.
“As funds are yet to be cleared, we took loan from Jharkhand Zoo Authority for meeting this exigency. Though forest guards, rangers and other frontline staff are casual workers in nature, they assume immense importance when it comes to safeguarding animal territories,” he said.
Mishra didn’t disclose the exact amount of loan but said they could arrange enough funds to meet the requirement of all the divisions.
The department was compelled to hire contract workers, as there has been no recruitment in the past three decades. Of the total sanctioned strength of 3,368 forest guards, there are only around 950 permanent staff, while there are merely 500 rangers as against the 1,062 posts.
Ranchi divisional forest officer Kamlesh Pandey, who is also head of Dalma sanctuary, confirmed the development. “Last week, casual workers had threatened to go on a strike from October 3, but they are happy now,” said Pandey, adding the strike would have compounded visitors’ woes.