Due to non-release of 95% grant-in-aid for the past 18 months by the Punjab government, the managements, principals and staff of government-aided private colleges are under severe financial constraints and have threatened to launch a statewide agitation if the grant is not released.
The teachers and non teaching employees of a majority of the 130 aided colleges have not been paid salaries for many months. The grant by the government forms the financial backbone of these institutions.
An emergency meeting of the principals of the aided colleges of Majha region held here on Saturday expressed concern over the attitude of the government. They pointed out that if these colleges shut down, higher education will be in the doldrums in Punjab.
At the meeting the principals pointed out that the managements of their respective colleges has expressed their inability to meet even the elementary expenditure in their respective institutions. There were also suggestions at the meeting that the ongoing semester examinations should be boycotted.
The meeting also took a serious view of the government’s proposed move to reduce this grant-in-aid from 95% to 80 %. The principals in the meeting expressed surprise at the government’s recent decision on issuing a notification of reducing the house rent allowance (HRA) to 15%, 7.5%, and 5% from the previously paid 20%, 12%, and 5% respectively. The meeting also took note of the fact that the monthly medical allowance has been reduced from `500 to `350. This was done despite the fact that medical costs are going up.
The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) has already decided to hold a state-level protest at Chandigarh on November 25 in protest against the non-release of grant-in-aid. The Principals’ Federation has also formed a six-member action committee with Dr Gurdeep Sharma of Hariana (Hoshiarpur) as convener to chalk out its strategy.
In a statement issued after the meeting, the principals warned the government that if the grant was not released, the colleges would be shut down.