Jamshedpur, June 28: Anger is simmering among the trackers of Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary as the forest department is yet to sanction funds to clear their pay from April onwards.
Last year too, the 40-odd trackers — village youths hired as daily wager-earners to keep a tab on movement of elephants and other animals — were not paid for eight months. The youths, who have congregated under the banner of Dainik Majdoor Sangh, have threatened to stop work if their dues are not cleared by next month. They reasoned that their sole income was what they got for daily scouting the 192sqkm sanctuary.
“I am poor and have to take care of my wife and two children. I purchased grocery on credit. This attitude of the forest department is not acceptable to us,” said Dilip Tudu, who has been working in Dalma as a tracker for two years.
Co-worker Fagu Mardi said they would be forced to stop work if payment was not made by next month. “We will strike work and demonstrate in front of the entry gate at Makulakocha,” he said.
Dalma range officer Mangal Kashyap admitted that the trackers had not been paid for the past three months, adding that funds were expected to be released soon. “We can pay them only after we receive the funds,” he added.
A tracker is supposed to get Rs 177 per day. Earlier, the rate was Rs 160, but was raised from April this year.