With the release of arrears for over seven years again getting stuck in the tardy functioning of the state government, hopes of university and college faculty have dashed again.
Though a notification regarding the release of arrears on the pattern of the University Grants Commission (UGC) was issued by the government on January 2, the teaching staff has not received its due even after 76 days.
Sources said the clearance of arrears was still to get the nod of the state finance department, although it had been approved by the audit department after evaluation.
As per the January 2 notification of the joint secretary (finance), the arrears were to be paid in three installments - two installments of 30% each and the remaining amount in the third -- on January 31, February 28 and March 31, 2013, respectively.
According to the finance department sources, the government has to bear a burden of 450.27 crore for doling out the pending arrears for 43 months, from January 1, 2006, to August 31, 2009. The Punjab government has to bear just 20% of the total burden, 80% of which has to be doled out by the Centre.
The teachers' unions operating in the Punjabi University, Patiala, and the Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, having had agitated for long to get the dues, have threatened to launch state-wide protests against the stalled arrears.
"It is really ironical that teachers have not been paid their dues even as the Centre has already given its share in January. The state government is deliberately delaying the release of arrears because of its empty coffers," said Prof Jaswinder Brar, convener of the Punjabi University teachers' coordination committee (PUTCC), the teacher's body that has vigorously pursued issue at various levels.
The PUTCC has threatened to launch a bigger protest across the state and has given March-end as the deadline to the state government to act in the matter.
"Teachers would not bear this government attitude. We will show our power," Prof Kesar Singh Bhangu, another office-bearer of PUTCC warned.
An under secretary-level official at the state treasury informed HT that government may release the arrears by the end of March.
"We are planning to release the dues of all the teachers in two installments now," he said.
As per information, a member of the university faculty, who was a professor on January 1, 2006, would get approximately 9 to 10 lakh in the form of arrears, while an assistant professor would duely get Rs. 3 to 4 lakh.