Radio Muzaffarabad employees lament high ups' 'apathy'

Greater Kashmir

Muzaffarabad, July 7: Nine months down the lane, the earthquake stricken employees of Radio Muzaffarabad still discharge their duties in abject conditions due to what they allege indifference of Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) towards their plight.
Of the two buildings of the 150 kilowatt radio station, one was flattened and the other was rendered unusable by the quake which consequently brought its transmissions to a grinding halt.
Apart from that, the tremor also levelled the nearby radio employees’ colony, depriving its residents of almost all of their worldly belongings and a number of family members.
According to United Staff Organisation (USO), the representative body of employees, there had been 59 deaths in the families of radio employees.
However, notwithstanding their personal trauma, many employees returned to their ruined premises and resumed transmissions from flimsy tents through an FM network within two weeks.
Ever since, they say they have been left by the PBC at the mercy of circumstances as “it has shown least concern to improve their working conditions.”
During a visit to the station’s premises, the employees working in harsh conditions came up with a plethora of complaints against their organisation.
“Look at the conditions wherein we are working right from the biting winter season to the hot and humid summer. It seems as if we are not part of this society,” remarked USO president Jamil Anwar Kashmiri, who had taken off his shirt to fight the sizzling temperature.
Kashmiri claimed that the salaries of PaK Television Centre employees were doubled and each of them was also provided an immediate relief of Rs 100,000 after the earthquake, he lamented that no such benefit was passed on by PBC to its employees in Muzaffarabad.
He also alleged that the Radio Pakistan Faisalabad employees had sent an amount of Rs 350,000 for their affected colleagues in Muzaffarabad but nobody knew where that money had gone.
“All the PBC employees also got deducted a certain amount from their salaries for the quake victims, but we got nothing from that amount as well,” he said.
Kashmiri said the PBC was building only five shelter homes in radio colony which he feared could pitch the employees against each other at the time of allotment.
“They should build as many shelters as was the number of the families living in the colony before the quake,” he demanded.
He asked the PBC to follow the PaK government which had exempted its employees from taxes, recovery of several kinds of loans like house building, motorcycle and car advances.
“Besides, it should also increase the salary of contract employees.”
The radio employees also regretted that no senior official of the ministry of information and broadcasting or the PBC had visited them after the quake to console them and to look into their problems.
“We hoped that Sheikh Rashid Ahmed who always boasted of his Kashmiri origins will definitely visit us. He was only 130 kilometres away from us but he did not find time to come here in our hours of grief and pain. Other officials also followed him,” said Kashmiri of the former Pakistani information minister.
“Now we hope that the new minister, Muhammad Ali Durrani, will pay us a visit to have firsthand knowledge of our problems and take measures for their early resolution so that we can continue our work with peace of mind.”