'I begged for a job but SGNP officials ignored my pleas'

Updated: Dec 04, 2019, 07:37 IST | Samiullah Khan | Mumbai

The widow is left with no option but to do odd jobs

Tara Gimbhal's husband had been mauled to death by a lion during a safari in 2010. She and her daughter (both pictured) have been struggling to make ends meet since then
Tara Gimbhal's husband had been mauled to death by a lion during a safari in 2010. She and her daughter (both pictured) have been struggling to make ends meet since then

Forty-five-year-old Tara Gimbhal's husband Harishchandra was mauled to death by a lion during a safari at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) back in 2010. Till date, she struggles to make ends meet without the permanent job that the authorities concerned had promised her. Eight years after the incident, in 2018, all that she was given was Rs 1.5 lakh compensation, even though she was promised Rs 10 lakh. Even worse is that six months after the MAT court past a directive in her favour on June 25, she still awaits a job and rightful compensation.

The widow is left with no option but to do odd jobs. She has been facing such a severe financial crisis that her daughter had to give up her studies and do house-keeping work to support her mother.

Court order

With no ray of hope left after 10 years of her husband's death, Gimbhal, assisted by a non-profit firm approached Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal (MAT) court early this year to seek justice. On June 25 the MAT court issued a directive asking the SGNP officials concerned to immediately offer Gimbhal a job as compensation. Yet, even after six months of that order, she is running from pillar to post to get her due.

Speaking to mid-day, Gimbhal said, "Whenever I used to visit the SGNP office, they would tell me that the documentation related to my job would be completed in a few months. After a couple of months of my husband's death, the authorities put up a list mentioning names of contractual employees who were given permanent government jobs, and my husband's name was there. But when I met the authorities, they told me to wait for a couple of months." After a four-month wait, she was given Rs 1.5 lakh compensation instead of the promised Rs 10 lakh.

She further said, "When I asked the authorities for the rest of the money, they again told me to wait. I begged for a job, as I had to feed my 12-year-old daughter.
But they paid no heed to my request." After repeated requests, they gave her a job of cleaning guesthouses.

"Now they pay me Rs 8,000 per month. My daughter had to leave her studies to support the family. She is also working since the past three years," Gimbhal added.

"The officials are so apathetic. Am I asking for something beyond my right? First a lion snatched my husband, and now the officials are taking away my job too," she said.

Ray of hope

After learning about Gimbhal's plight, president of Dhadak Kamgar Union Unit at SGNP, Johny Waike, followed up her case with the authorities.

"When we got to know about her case, we decided to take it up very seriously. A permanent job and compensation are her right. She must get it. In fact, the authorities had given it in writing," said Waike. "Disappointed with the administration, we knocked on the door of the MAT court this year. It considered our demand and passed an order in Tara's favour," he added.

Even after repeated calls and messages, Chief Conservator of Forests, Anwar Ahmad did not respond. However, DFO, Sachin Repale said, "I am not aware of it. I will talk about it only after checking on Wednesday."

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