Targeted by opposition parties over ‘costly’ gifts given to legislators during the budget session, the Bihar government has approved the release of Rs 1,137.25 crore as payment of salaries to around 2.66 lakh contractual teachers.
The amount would be released to the districts, after which it would be deposited in the teachers’ accounts.
The decision to release the funds was taken at a cabinet meeting chaired by chief minister Nitish Kumar on Monday. As many as 29 other proposals were also approved at the meeting.
Education minister Ashok Choudhary said the state government had to release funds under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) from its own treasury because the Centre had refused to make its share of the funds available. He denied the BJP’s claims that the state government had unilaterally decided to hike the teachers’ wages under the SSA, adding that all political parties favoured it.
“Chief minister Nitish Kumar wrote many letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in this regard. Even I met Union HRD minister Smriti Irani and apprised her about the increased load on the state exchequer due to the hike in teachers’ salaries. She assured all help to the state government,” said Choudhary.
The education minister said the payment was being held up because the state government was waiting for the Centre to release the promised amount. The chief minister has nevertheless made a provision to ensure the timely payment of teachers’ salaries without waiting for the Modi government to comply, he added.
The opposition has been lambasting the state government for making customary gifts to MLAs when teachers have not been paid since December last year. Officials said salary arrears up to March this year would be provided over the next few days.
In its meeting, the cabinet also approved the home department’s proposal to table an action taken report (ATR) with regard to the Forbesganj police firing in the House. Four persons, including a woman and a child, were killed in the June 3, 2011 incident. The state government had ordered a judicial inquiry into the matter.
The cabinet also gave a one-year extension of service to about 200 contractual veterinary doctors, and around 300 junior engineers appointed by the planning and development department. It also released a Rs 29-crore grant for the Bihar administrative reforms mission.