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Nigahbans ask govt to clear their salaries of 11 months

YARKHUN: The government is not only trampling the labour laws by not paying us our salaries but has also deprived us of our basic right of going out to earn a living for our families.

As many as 216 people hired by the forest and wildlife departments as Nigahbans (caretakers) for saplings planted under the KP government’s tsunami plantation project and forest areas such as mountains have not been paid their salaries for 11 months now.

In April 2019, these Nigahbans were paid their stuck-up salaries of 14 months after they went on a protest in Booni.

Since then, the two departments have been passing the buck to each other for clearing the salaries of the Nigahbans.

A number of Nigahbans in Yarkhun told ChitralToday on Sunday that since the government hired them they had been performing their assigned tasks and could not go to down districts to work as labourers.

“But the government never pays us the salaries on time,” they said, adding if they were not needed they should be told to stop duty.

They said a few months ago they gathered in Mastuj to launch a protest but MPA Hidayatur Rehman assured them that he had spoken to the secretary forest department and the salaries would be cleared within days.

However, after the Nigahbans postponed their protest there was no progress and the workers are still without pay. They had announced to start the protest on April 6 but due to the coronavirus pandemic all offices are closed and Section 144 imposed in Chitral.

In such a situation, the Nigahbans and their families are facing a crisis and called upon the government to clear their arrears of past 11 months to save their families from starvation.

They also called upon the elected representatives of Chitral, especially MPA Rehman, to raise voice for them so that they could be paid their salaries of 11 months.

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