Taking cue from villagers affected by Indra Sagar Project in Madhya Project, several hundreds of contractual teachers (adhyapaks) of the state have resorted to jal satyagrah for redressal of their demands including equal pay for equal work.
Nearly 1.70 lakh contractual teachers, teaching in 18,000 schools of the state are on strike since February 18.
Into their 17th day of agitation, the striking contractual teachers sat in water of Chillar dam at Shajapur (70 kilometres north of Indore), in river Narmada at Barwah (60 kilometres east of Indore) and in Kshipra river near Dewas (40 kilometres north east of Indore). The strike has come at a time when state school board examinations are on, thereby causing problem in invigilation duty.
Earlier in September last year, the villagers affected by construction of Omkareshwar project at Ghogalgaon in Khandwa district sat in water in September last for 17 days, forcing state government to lower the water level of the dam.
The teachers, besides equal work and equal pay, are also demanding all the benefits being availed by their regular counterparts in the government schools.
The strike spells trouble for Shivraj Singh Chouhan government as the state assembly elections are due next year.
“We don't want any false assurance. We are ready to sacrifice our lives to press state government to fulfil their promises," said Lalit Tiwari, the regional coordinator of State Teachers' Association.
“The state government has not given permanent appointment to hundreds of teachers and their pay scale is as low as those of labourers,” he added.
A contract teacher in the state is paid a monthly amount of Rs. 5,000 while others with same qualification but with permanent jobs earn Rs. 25,000-30,000 per month.
The state cabinet had earlier announced to increase the salary of assistant teacher, teacher and senior teachers by Rs. 2,500-3,500 from April 1 and provide other facilities. Following the announcement, the Samvida Shikshak Sangh withdrew from the agitation, while the contractual teachers decided to continue with their agitation.