As the war of words between Delhi University and the Delhi government escalated over the past week, teachers and other staff members of DU colleges funded by the latter continue to go without their salaries for three months or more.
While the Delhi government has said it has released 23% of this year’s funds for 12 colleges fully funded by it, these colleges have been struggling to pay their staff and their bills, which they say is because of “shortage of funds”.
On August 7, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said the inability of colleges to pay salaries “despite 70% budget increase in five years” indicates “corruption”. In response, the university said that it took “strong exception” to the allegation and claimed there was an 80-100% increase in expenditure on account of salary and 300-500% increase in non-salary expenditure since 2014 across the 12 colleges. The Delhi government went on to order a financial audit of seven colleges.
Dr Sujit Kumar, who has taught at DU’s Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar College for 27 years, is among those caught in the crossfire. He said that while the situation is bad for teachers, it is worse for contractual and daily wage employees of the college.
“We have not been paid for May, June, July and now August. I’m very sad to say that I now have to ask relatives and friends for money for household expenses. Imagine how hard this is for contractual workers who only make Rs 15,000 per month. This morning I couldn’t even take my class – my son had to use my laptop to write his OBE and I was left with my non-functional desktop which I have not been able to repair. Next month, I won’t be able to pay for high-speed internet,” he said.
Dr Mahaveer, who teaches chemistry at Deen Dayal Upadhyaya College, said it is not just salaries which is pending. “Ad hoc teachers of the college have not been paid their summer salaries for 2019 and 2020; 90% teachers are waiting for arrears of the Seventh Pay Commission, which is around Rs 18-20 lakh for assistant professors and Rs 8-9 lakh for associate professors; we have not been getting our medical cover; and in addition to that, we were last paid for the month of April. I have not been able to pay rent for my flat this month and am getting threats from my landlord,” he said.
Across all affected colleges, staff members say such a crisis is unprecedented. “Earlier, funds were being withheld by the government saying that the formation of Governing Bodies of the colleges is not happening as it should; now they say there is corruption. In all of this, the casualty are staff members who have nothing to do with either of these things. In my 16 years at the university, I have not seen such things happen,” said Dr Subodh Kumar who teaches Political Science at Maharaja Agrasen College.
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