Village chowkidars work on meagre wages despite promises of enhancement

Village chowkidars work on meagre wages despite promises of enhancement
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‘Rs 1500 insufficient even to meet field expenses’

BUDGAM: Thousands of village chowkidars, who keep records of births and deaths in their area besides other errands, are paid a meagre Rs 1500 honorarium, which they say is not enough even to meet their field expenses.
Even though in the Chowkidars Act-1956, they were classified as public servants on behalf of government departments, but six decades on, the chowkidars say, they are being neglected, even as government employees of the state avail seventh pay commission benefits.
Talking to Kashmir Reader, All J&K Chowkidars Union Leader, Bashir Ahmad Sheikh expressed displeasure over the “step-motherly approach” by successive governments towards them.
“During present system of self governance, the workload on 5442 Chowkidars across J&K has increased manifold but when question of facilities and honorarium arises there is no satisfactory improvement as on date”.
Bashir said each village guard has a jurisdiction of six to seven villages.
“But in return they are getting very small amount as honorarium while their field of working is very large,” Bashir said.
The chowkidars have to report every death or birth in their jurisdiction at the concerned police station.
Bashir said, in most of the cases the chowkidars spend money from their pockets.
The chowkidars visit individual homes to cross check the facts. Besides, they also carry summons of police, Tehsildar and Naib Tehsildar to concerned people. They also help the patwaris to identify the land/khasra number in case of disputes.
Bashir said the same work is done by municipalities in towns, “but contrary to us, they have been upgraded to class-IV employees and are receiving handsome salaries. If this isn’t injustice, then what shall I call it?” Bashir remarked.
Ghulam Rosool Sheikh, a chowkidar from Budgam district said that the meagre honorarium was inadequate to even compensate the daily fares.
“How come can I think of feeding the family on such a small amount,” Rasool said.
“I have been working day in and day out as a chowkidar from last two decades but the result is negative. I have failed to meet the two ends”.
“From registers to certificate papers, I have to buy each and everything from my own pocket, besides it takes most of my time in moving from village to village,” he added.
Bashir said that in order to make the institution of chowkidars productive and useful, the state government in April 2017 enhanced the honorarium of Chowkidars from Rs 750 to Rs 1500.
“Finance Minister in the 2016-17 budget had also made an announcement regarding redefining the roles of Chowkidars in view of the changed scenario coupled with suitable enhancement in our honoraria. However, nothing has improved on ground till date,” he said, adding that the government had later promised to increase the honorarium to Rs 5000, but nothing has been done.
“If government has issued an order for the hike of salaries, then for what reason its implementation is being delayed,” he said. “We do our duty regularly without taking any off day, still we are being paid meagre wages”.
“I on behalf of 5442 chowkidars request governor Satya Paul Malik to look into the matter of priority basis,” Bashir added.