Porters engaged by the Indian Army to carry logistics at Siachen Glacier have complained that they are paid “inadequately” and receive meagre compensation in case of death.
Local MLAs have asked governor Narinder Nath Vohra to raise the issue of enhanced ‘compensation and due recognition’ with the Centre.
“We work on a par with the army by carrying ration and other logistics to higher posts. Sometime we trek for 18 days but our services are not recognized,” Stazin Gysto, a porter, told HT over phone from the Siachen base camp.
The army recovered the body of a local porter on Wednesday who fell into the crevasse 200-feet deep on February 27.
Since 1984, 20 porters have died in Siachen and bodies of three porters have still not been recovered, said MLA Nubra Deldan Namgayal. The Leh district, however, said that they are still verifying the number.
“We risk our lives and health for just Rs 18,000-Rs 15000. The only thing that differentiates our work-with-soldiers is the gun. But can soldiers survive at such heights without us. Should we not be treated at least equally,” said Gyasto.
The porters claim that in case of death or serious injury they are paid Rs 1 lakh as compensation. “I as a local sarpanch contested the case of porter, who had died, in the labour court under Work Man Compensation Act 1923, for compensation. It’s after this the insurance cover was started,” said MLA.
The porters said they were asked to recover the bodies of 10 soldiers who had died in the avalanche at Siachen Glacier on January 3. “The porters registered with the labour commissioner office are insured of Rs 2 lakh in case of death or fatal injury by the state government,” said deputy commissioner Leh G Prasanna Ramaswamy.
Defence spokesperson Colonel SD Goswami said a large number of porters are engaged by the army in the northern-command and they are part of the army.