scorecardresearch
Follow Us:
Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Faces of fund crunch in Punjab: Contract teachers, lab attendants and only vet varsity

Punjab Finance Minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa, however, says that the government is not at fault and blames the departments, saying they do not prepare their budgets efficiently.

Written by Kanchan Vasdev , Navjeevan Gopal | Chandigarh |
March 11, 2016 8:56:52 am
punjab, punjab eduaction, punjab education funds, punjab funds, punjab finance ministry, punjab teacher salary, punjab news, india news, latest news This delay is not restricted to the teachers alone. Further south in Bathinda, Navdeep Kumar, a lab attendant at the Government High School in Kothi Chet Singh village in the district, has not been paid for the last 11 months. (Source: Express archive)

Thirty one-year-old Didar Singh Mudki, a contractual teacher at the Government Senior Secondary School, Mudki, in Ferozepur, has not been paid his salary for the last three months.

Mudki, employed under the Sarv Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) at a salary of over Rs 38,000 a month, has been borrowing money to buy groceries and pay his children’s school fees. He is the only employed person in his family. “I have become so helpless. I do not know how to handle this,” says the science teacher, who holds an M.Phil in Cytogenetics and an M.Ed degree. Mudki’s only consolation is that he is not alone.

In adjoining Faridkot, Gurpreet Singh Rupa, another contractual teacher posted at the Government Middle School in Pakhi Khurd, has a similar tale to narrate. He too is under debt because he was last paid in November. “Can you survive without a month’s salary?” he asks. “This is how our salaries are disbursed. Our file gets stuck in the state finance department for three to four months each time. We are always told that there is a paucity of funds,” he says.

[related-post]

Best of Express Premium
UPSC Key-June 28, 2022: Why to read ‘Hurting religious Sentiments’ or ‘In...Premium
Did NCP hold Uddhav hand, stop resignation, give him false hope?Premium
Record $82 billion dealmaking spree sees India defy global slumpPremium
How Rampur, Azamgarh were won: Behind BJP chipping away of SP votesPremium

This delay is not restricted to the teachers alone. Further south in Bathinda, Navdeep Kumar, a lab attendant at the Government High School in Kothi Chet Singh village in the district, has not been paid for the last 11 months. He is one among 90 lab attendants in various Punjab schools in a similar predicament. “We are as debt-ridden as farmers. We do not know what is gong to happen to our lives. We have borrowed money from here and there thinking we would return it when we get our salary. But we have for past 11 months been continually told that our file is stuck in the finance department.” he said. “We get Rs 18,000 a month. For us the Rs 2 lakh, which we are due for the 11 months, is a huge amount. If we quit, they will never pay us a single penny. We have nowhere to go,” he added.

Navdeep further said, shockingly, that some of the lab attendants hold B Tech and M Tech degrees.

Even as the state government embarks on a programme to recruit 1.4 lakh people in regular government jobs over the year, it has not paid, according to the Government Teachers’ Union, as many as 29,000 government teachers employed on contractual basis for between three and 11 months.

“Each time, they are told that the government does not have money. We have been agitating for them for many years now. But their problem remains the same,” says Harnek Singh Mavi, Press Secretary, Government Teachers Union. A hunger strike is on by representatives of these contractual teachers.

Punjab Finance Minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa, however, says that the government is not at fault and blames the departments, saying they do not prepare their budgets efficiently.

“We pay the maximum salaries in the country to government employees. Around 70 per cent of the state’s revenue is swallowed up by salary and pension bills. This grows by 10 to 15 per cent each year. There is no delay there. For those complaining about non payment of salaries, the departments, hiring contractual employees, who do not prepare a budget for their salaries are to be blamed. I have told them several times to submit a budget to the department,” he said.

The salaries of contractual teachers though are not the only liability staring the state in the face. According to Dhindsa, who is preparing this SAD-BJP government’s last budget before the 2017 Assembly elections, the state has pending bills worth Rs 2,000 crore. “But this is a small figure compared to the total amount of bills worth Rs 40,000 crore paid by the state. By this month-end, we would be able to clear all the bills,” he said.

Even the Punjab and Haryana High Court has commented on the Punjab government’s penchant for splurging on new schemes before meeting old bills. In February, Justice Bindal expressed surprise during the hearing of a petition on unpaid subsidy, that “the state government does not have money for routine expenses but it does not think twice before launching freebies and popular schemes like Mukh Mantri Tirath Darshan Yatra wherein the expenditure is being made from the consolidated fund”.

The High Court is currently hearing a bunch of over 60 petitions, including those filed by industries for unpaid subsidies; retired government employees for their pensions; teachers for their dues and VAT refund claimants. The lead petitioner in the case is Modgill Fashion, which is pressing for interest subsidy due to it under a 1996 plan called Modernisation Scheme. The court had called for a detailed explanation of Punjab’s finances.

At the last hearing on March 2, Chief Secretary Sarvesh Kaushal informed the High Court that Punjab’s debt as on March 31 last year stood at Rs 1,12,628 crore and it is estimated to go up to Rs 1,24,471 crore by the end of the current fiscal year.

The chief secretary, while submitting details of the amount due to be paid by five departments — School and Higher Education, Local Bodies, Public Works, Sales Tax and Irrigation – told the court though these departments have an amount of Rs 354.24 crore pending in the treasury, they have liabilities worth Rs 1,433.98 crore of which bills have not been presented to the treasury

According to the affidavit submitted by Kaushal in the High Court, the state has not cleared bills worth Rs 400 crore pertaining to the school and higher education department, local bodies department, irrigation department, PWD and sales tax department.

Sources said the government had also not paid Rs 1,000 crore towards agricultural subsidy to the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL). Also, an amount of Rs 500 crore is pending towards several departments on account of electricity bills.

Express Subscription Do not hit the wall, subscribe for the best coverage out of India starting at just $5 per month

📣 Join our Telegram channel (The Indian Express) for the latest news and updates

For all the latest India News, download Indian Express App.

  • Newsguard
  • The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.
  • Newsguard
0 Comment(s) *
* The moderation of comments is automated and not cleared manually by indianexpress.com.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement