Cutting expenses: Paper to give way to e-tools
“Very soon, we will switch over to complete use of email and social media tools like WhatsApp for information exchange to reduce ‘fizool kharchi’ on stationery. This will save a lot of expenses,” Pandey told HT on the sidelines of a Janata Darshan at the BJP office in Dehradun.dehradun Updated: Jan 02, 2018 20:55 IST
DEHRADUN: School education minister Arvind Pandey on Tuesday said his department will cut down on use of stationery to reduce ‘fizool kharchi’ (extravagant expenses), a day after he announced to set up a ‘contributory fund’ for supporting education.
Pandey had exhorted officials to voluntarily contribute their one-day salary so that the funds collected could be used for meeting “small but emergency expenses” in schools. On Tuesday, he announced to contribute his monthly salary of Rs 51,000 for the fund. The minister added that a few officials and school principals had wished to contribute to the corpus.
“Very soon, we will switch over to complete use of email and social media tools like WhatsApp for information exchange to reduce ‘fizool kharchi’ on stationery. This will save a lot of expenses,” Pandey told HT on the sidelines of a Janata Darshan at the BJP office in Dehradun.
The minister made this announcement to a query on the government’s plan to follow the high court directive of cutting down unproductive expenses on luxurious items and of diverting the necessary funds to improve the education system.
A large number of government schools in Uttarakhand, especially in remote hill areas, lack basic infrastructure such as benches, desks and toilets. Last year, the high court had pulled up the government for “miserably failing to provide bare minimum facilities” in state-run schools and restrained it from purchasing luxury items like luxurious cars, air conditioners and lavish furniture. It warned the government that it might consider recommending imposition of Article 360 (financial emergency) of Constitution if the government was unable to provide funds for taking care of basic requirement of schools.
“Uttarakhand is a small state and doesn’t have much resources. When the common man is devoid of facilities, it won’t be fair if ministers and officials roam about in luxury cars. We will see to it that unnecessary expenses are cut down on,” Pandey said, admitting the lack of resources.
Pandey arrived about two hours late at the Janata Darashan - a public grievance redressal meeting which Uttarakhand ministers periodically chair at the BJP office - on Tuesday where over 35 complainants had gathered. Soon after taking over the stage, he went through the complaints hastily and directed his staff to follow the cases with the departments concerned. When one of the parties asked if his problem would get resolved, Pandey quipped: “Commitment hai, kaam ho jayega” (I commit to you that the work will get done).
While he pulled up the Chamoli district magistrate for failing to prevent dumping of road construction debris in agricultural fields, the minister asked the director general of police to ‘withdraw a police case’ against complainants. “You see, officials are taking the janata darshans seriously,” he told the media.
Referring to his government’s decision to introduce National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) books in all schools, Pandey said, “For the first time in the country, children of rich and poor will read the same books” .
Silent on Lokayukta
An otherwise exuberant Pandey turned silent on being asked whether the state needed a Lokayukta (ombudsman). Chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat had recently drawn criticism from activists for his statement that Uttarakhand did not need an anti-graft body as his government was already adopting a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach against corruption. “I alone am not qualified to comment on this,” Pandey said.