The Odisha Assembly was on Friday rocked by issues of teachers’ strike and rise in fuel prices as the house was adjourned following the pandemonium. Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan today met government-aided school and college teachers protesting their service conditions in Bhubaneswar. The teachers have been protesting for discrimination in pay and perks in comparison with regular state government teachers.
Thousands of teachers in Odisha’s block-grant schools and colleges on Wednesday evening stepped up their agitation in Bhubaneswar, reiterating a four-year-old allegation of discrimination in pay and perks in comparison with regular state government teachers. Starting Thursday, the teachers stopped teaching in 2,608 schools and around 1,000 colleges across the state, which they say will affect 30 lakh students.
Pradhan, who met the teachers sitting in protest on PMG Square, slammed the state government for failing to reach a compromise. “If the teacher’s demands are met, the state will only have to come up with an additional Rs 800 crores. This government has money for its party activities, like Biju Yuva Vahini, and its election doles, like Ama Gaon Ama Bikas,” said Pradhan.
Biju Yuva Vahini is a volunteer programme by the state government. The state government’s Ama Gaon, Ama Bikas (Our Village, Our Development) programme is a direct fund disbursement programme for development activities in the state.
Asked whether the Centre should provide more funds for Odisha, Pradhan said, “The Centre is providing more money under the 14th Finance Commission. If the state government chooses to spend it on party activities, what can we do?”
Meanwhile, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has kicked off a three-day-long protest in front of petrol pumps across the state targeting the Centre over rising cost of commercial transport fuel. BJD leaders stood in front of petrol pumps across the state protesting against the Centre for rising prices of petrol and diesel. The party plans to hold these protests for three days. The party’s women and youth wing distributed pamphlets to the people visiting petrol pumps.
BJD’s Sambalpur MLA Raseswari Panigrahi said, “The rate at which Centre is hiking fuel prices has made everyday life a misery for people”.