Nearly 800 retirees of Chaudhary Sarwan Kumar Himachal Pradesh Agriculture University (CSK- HPAU) may end up without pension from next month as the university has run out of funds.
Sources in the university have said that the institution's financial situation had deteriorated in the past three years and, from June onwards, the institution may not be able to disburse pensions.
The sources said blamed the mismanagement of the contributory pension scheme by the university authorities for the situation. “While the scheme was introduced in 1996, the university management decided to extend its benefits to those who had retired 10 years ago. In some cases, it is more than that,” said an official, who did not wish to be named.
“Secondly, money from the corpus funds was diverted for other works, and the university failed to make available the amount spent from the fund,” the official said, adding that successive state governments also did not stock up the fund.
Meanwhile, some pensioners alleged that vice-chancellor SK Sharma, who retired as professor from the university two years ago, himself ordered the release of his leave encashment benefit amounting to Rs 35 lakh, while other pensioners were still struggling for it.
Last year, when the university had refused to implement the revised pay scale with a gratuity limit of Rs 10 lakh, the pensioners had moved high court, which ordered in the pensioners favour and directed HPAU to give revised pay scales and arrears to pensioners within three months, allowing gratuity cap of Rs 10 lakh.
Though the university gave revised pay scales, it expressed inability to pay arrears and hiked gratuity, presently frozen at Rs. 3.5 lakh. Earlier, university authorities had asked for Rs 100 crore from the then Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) government for sustaining the contributory pension scheme.
However, the already fund-starved state government had turned down the request. Later, the university filed a special leave petition (SLP) in Supreme Court against the high court's decision on direction of the state government. It is yet to be come up for hearing.
The state government has been giving annual grants to HPAU, but does not define if the grant is for serving employees or pensioners. Though The VC could not be contacted, sources said the university had put up the case, defining entire liability, before the state government and requesting a bailout package. With the revised pay-scale, the university's monthly liability towards pension is around Rs 2 crore.