Guards back with tigers

Court orders salaries for Valmiki Tiger Reserve staff

Published: Wednesday 15 May 2002

extreme measures do work! Like it did for the staff of Valmiki Tiger Reserve who had not been paid their salaries since October last year. As a culmination of their efforts, the Supreme Court has now ordered the Bihar government to pay salaries to its employees at the Valmiki Tiger Reserve.

In October 2001, the staff walked out of the reserve forest, leaving 43 tigers at the mercy of poachers. An abandoned reserve was also an open invitation to the international timber mafia.

These employees, who had not been paid their salaries for 14 months, then went on a hunger strike in front of the house of the field director. Ironically, the field director himself had not been paid his salary.

Even these measures did not work. Finally, following media reports, Ashok Kumar, trustee, Wildlife Trust of India ( wti), and member of the Project Tiger Steering Committee, filed a petition in the Supreme Court.

The sc noted that the management and administration of the forest was under the direct control of Bihar government with funds from the Union government. Notices were issued to the union government and Bihar government in January.

The state government subsequently paid the staff salaries and assured the court that it would make the project permanent. It also promised to rectify its administrative and fiscal system.

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