Following a call by the Joint Action Committee of Principals, teachers and non-teaching staff of non-government aided and affiliated colleges of Punjab and Chandigarh held a massive rally at Ram Bagh Gardens here on Friday to protest against “anti-education” and “anti-employees” policies of the government.
The protesting members said stakeholders of the colleges were agitated over inordinate and unwarranted delay in the release of grants meant for the payment of salaries, and threatened to “shut down their institutions”.
Principals, teachers and non-teaching employees of various colleges of Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Jalandhar and representatives from other districts of Punjab participated in the rally that was organised from Ram Bagh Gardens to Novelty Chowk.
In view of the protest, the semester examinations scheduled to be held on Friday were postponed by Panjab University, Punjabi University and Guru nanak Dev University.
Addressing the protesters, state general secretary of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) Prof HS Walia said it appeared that there was no government in Punjab, else there would have not been a delay of 15 months in disbursement of the grant for the payment of salaries to college employees.
He said if there was a financial crunch, it meant that the government had failed miserably to generate resources even for meeting the basic requirements of the state.
“In such a scenario, when 75% of the total colleges are on the verge of closure and other sectors of the state are not getting adequate funds, imposition of financial emergency remains the only alternative,” he added.
Representatives of the Non-Teaching Employees Union, meanwhile, said besides non-release of the grants, the government had not filled the vacant non-teaching posts June 2005 onwards.
They pointed out that the notification for the revision of pay scales of non-teaching employees had not been issued so far despite chief minister Parkash Singh Badal making commitment to implement the demand time and again.
The principals at the rally — including Surinder Bangar, Rajesh Kumar, Narinder Kaur, Harbinder and PK Sharma — appealed to the government to release the pending grants in the larger interest of the higher education in the state. If the grants were not released immediately, the colleges would have to be closed, they added.
PCCTU finance secretary Prof VK Sareen, state executive member Prof JS Arora, Amritsar district president Prof Malkiat Singh and district secretary Prof Vikas Bhardwaj said “the higher education system in the state was going haywire due to the directionless policies of the government”.
They demanded implementation of pension and gratuity schemes, security of service for employees, relaxation in refresher courses as per the University Grants Commission’s (UGC) guidelines and streamlining of Academic Performance Indicator (API) Score System for promotions.
Regarding the next course of action, Walia said the Joint Action Committee would declare the next programme at a press conference in Chandigarh on December 22.
Meanwhile, as per reports received by PCCTU, the quarterly grant for the third quarter of financial year 2013-14 has been released by the government, however, the grants for the four quarter is still pending.
“This is just not sufficient and will not give the aided colleges any breathing space,” stated Walia.