Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary
Jamshedpur, Aug. 16: Foresters of the Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary are playing good Samaritans to hapless trackers — who have not been paid wages for the past four months — at a time when the state government seems to have turned a blind eye towards their plight.
The forest officials, including range officer, are providing monetary help to these village youths, who are employed as daily wagers for keeping tabs on movement of elephants, some of whom are married with children. Also, some foresters are facilitating ration on credit for them from shops in villages dotting the 192sqkm sanctuary.
Range officer Mangal Kashyap said the trackers were in dire straits and helping them was human. “The daily wagers have no option but to work at the sanctuary. I contribute from my pocket to keep them going. They are still on duty hoping that their dues would be cleared at the earliest,” he said.
According to Kashyap, the government has sanctioned funds for clearing their dues. “But there is a procedure for disbursing the amount. I think the dues would be cleared in the next 10 days,” he told The Telegraph.
Dinesh Kumar, a forester from Bhadodih, said he had requested a local grocer to provide ration on credit to the daily wagers.
Another forester is buying vegetables from Jamshedpur and distributing the same among some daily wagers. “I am trying to help them out with vegetables. I live in the steel city and carry vegetables to the sanctuary. I feel very pity at the plight of the trackers,” he added.
Currently, over 40 elephant trackers are working in the sanctuary for a daily wage of Rs 177. The wage was increased from the previous Rs 161 this April, but the temporary forest workers have not been receiving any money for the past four months.
“I am in great difficulty and have no money to run my family. The foresters are helping me but I know they cannot do it for long,” said Sushil Biruili, a tracker from Makulakocha.
His counterpart Chotu Sardar from Nutandih said they had been working hard but the government had no regard for their sincerity. “I have two kids and old parents. I had taken a loan from my father-in-law but that money has now exhausted. Don’t know what to do,” he said.
The trackers are important components of the short-staffed sanctuary. They operate throughout the year and are handy on occasions like Vishu Shikar and Shivaratri.