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Big cat census underway, Palamau Tiger Reserve staff not paid for over five months

The lack of fund at Palamau Tiger Reserve has also created a fodder crisis for the animals at the reserve.

ranchi Updated: Sep 05, 2018 15:57 IST
Sanjoy Dey
Sanjoy Dey
Hindustan Times, Ranchi
jharkhand,palamau tiger reserve,tiger census 2018
File photo of Palamu Tiger Re, serve, Jharkhand. (HT File Photo )

Even as the tiger census-2018 is underway, daily wagers, trackers and casual workers, who play a significant role in census operation, have not been paid for more than five months at Palamau Tiger Reserve (PTR) in absence of a designated check drawing authority (CDA). The workers have now turned reluctant in performing their daily tasks, impacting the day to day activities, forest officials said.

No official at the reserve has been reportedly designated as CDA till date to sanction the fund. The forest department, in the last week of August, had released the fund after a delay of almost five months.

The lack of fund at PTR has also created a fodder crisis for the domesticated animals at the reserve. The officials at the reserve are struggling to feed these animals. They even have to borrow money for the upkeep of these animals at times.

Highlighting this situation, a state wildlife board member DS Srivastava on Tuesday wrote a letter to National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) seeking its intervention to save the tiger reserve.

Srivastava in his letter, a copy of which is with HT, said, “The fund sanctioned by NTCA in June this year was released by the state only in last week of August, that too partial, ignoring the committed liabilities.”

He further mentioned in the letter, “There is no fund for patrolling, protection or development work in PTR. Daily wage and casual staff have not been paid for the last 5-6 months.”

Srivastava said the state has not released fund for sanctioned schemes like grassland management in South division, monsoon patrolling, payment for field biologists and personnel engaged in tiger monitoring.

“The forest officials even have to spend money on medical treatment of the villages in case of injury by wildlife from their own pockets,” he said.

Srivastava, who is also the secretary of Nature Conservation Society (NCS), said, “Activities have turned standstill in PTR immensely impacting the census operations,” he said.

Spread over 1129.93 sq km, the reserve is also home to 47 species of mammals and 174 species of birds. The 2014 estimation report confirms only three tigers in the reserve, which were 10 in the 2010 Census report. However, the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), through a DNA sample analyses last year, confirmed presence of six tigers in the reserve.

State chief wildlife warden, Priyesh Verma, who joined office as principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife) on Tuesday, said he was not aware of the matter. “We will sort out the issue very soon,” he said.

Meanwhile, Officials in the forest department said the check drawing authority (CDA) is designated by the office of accountant general and not by the state government.

Divisional forest officer (DFO) of PTR core area Anil Kumar Mishra said, “The AG office has sought reply on few queries, which we will submit by Wednesday. Thereafter, the process of allotting CDA will begin.”

First Published: Sep 05, 2018 15:56 IST