LAHORE - Leading artistes of Radio Pakistan entertaining people for years are faced with a situation wherein their work has been cut down by the new station director. While facing the crunch due to price hike and inflation their income too has come down. Radio Pakistan has also withdrawn the facility of transportation to female workers. All the artistes working at Radio Pakistan Lahore have been affected by the shift in policy. Some of them had been getting bookings (working) for 21 days in a month. Now these have been cut down. For example Imrana Khan used to have 21 bookings in one month. Her bookings have been reduced to 14. 60-year-old Ghazi Mongairi, who suffered paralysis attack but still has good voice quality, had 21 bookings in past but has now been allowed just 12. Rukhsana Bashir, who is disabled due to polio, has her bookings reduced to 10 from 21. Outstanding category artiste Asghar Malik's bookings have been reduced to 13 from 21. Outstanding artiste and compere Ghayyur Akhtar, who had 21 bookings for over eight years, now has 13. Interestingly some artistes who approached the director general in Islamabad now have 26 bookings. This means they have 26 days of work in a month. These include Asghar Zaidi, Anita Khan, Naheed Akhtar and Naheed Khan. "Oh ho ho. The affairs of Radio Pakistan are deplorable. The institution is fast on way to decline. We have devoted our lives to art and this is what we get paid when we grow old. We have not lost our star value but they are bent upon taking us away from the masses that love us so much. Slowly they want to replace genuine artistes. "Reducing the bookings is reportedly being done to reduce the budget. But at the same time the whole building of Radio Pakistan is getting fresh paint. Why does the budget has to be adjusted at the stake of artistes wages? The artistes have devoted all their lives for the institution and would not allow it its decline. It is sad the way they have started treating senior artistes," famous actor Ghayyur Akhtar said while talking to The Nation on Wednesday. Akhtar said the artistes would stage protests and start a movement against the move to cut down their work. "We will soon announce protest demonstration, which will be staged in front of the Punjab Assembly building," he said. Station Director Abid Bukhari said he had sympathies for the senior artiste and was fighting for their cause. "Instead of going for protest they should understand that I am not hiding anything from them. I am entitled to pay not more than Rs 84,000 to one artiste in one year. Last year the figure was Rs 72,000. If they are given the 21 days performance in a month their annual fee would be more than Rs 84,000 and this I cannot do," he explained. Bukhari said the problem was identified in the audit report. "Last year the artistes were paid Rs 2.1 million in excess. I have made a three-member committee including the director finance to probe and recover the extra amount," he said. He admitted since the artistes had performed extra, therefore, they were paid extra amount. "The chances of recovery are slim. I am advising the artistes to take stock of the situation and cooperate," Bukhari said.  He said some artistes had gone to director general based in Islamabad for getting enhanced their number of performances. "Some artistes went and got special permission. It is not in my power to give them more bookings. Only DG can give special permission to give them more work," the station director maintained. About withdrawal of transport facility, he said according to rules the drop service can be provided after sunset. "Since the sunset takes place late and they are free to go home at 7 pm the facility is not being provided. If they want to avail the facility they can stay and use Radio Pakistan transport at 8:30 pm. Petrol price has gone up and we are provided the same amount that has to be utilised the year. The whole budget has been upset by the increase in petrol price," Bukhari was of the view.