The Samarthya Institute of Disabled, an association of the visually-impaired, on Thursday levelled allegations of corruption and irregularities in the working of the Red Cross Institute for Visually Handicapped (RCIVH), the only school and hostel for the visually-impaired students in the district.
The association is miffed at the officials of the institute, especially its general secretary and the manager. "They are corrupt. Instead of hiring permanent Braille qualified teachers, they are using services of those close to them, who are untrained and unqualified for the job," president of the association Kuldeep Kumar Azad said.
The school which was established in 1969 started working with nine permanent teachers. However, with eight of them already retired, the institute is presently working with only a permanent Braille teacher.
"They claim we have 11 teachers. But of them, only four are Braille professionals, while one among them is permanent, the other three on contractual basis," Azad, said.
"The ones qualified are not getting considered and ineligible candidates are withdrawing salaries from here," the association president said.
"Is this a place for visually impaired or for love birds? The money that should be spent on the betterment of our children is spent on eloped couples," said, Naseeb Kumar, general secretary, Samarthay Institute of Disabled. "Due to the mismanagement, the intake of students which used to be around 70-80 is now reduced to 20 only," Kumar said.
"The inefficiency of the management is depicted by the fact that the institute still doesn't have a talking library. There are no technical gadgets used to teach the visually impaired. Besides, no communication sources are available in the institute," the general secretary said.
He said two cooks working in the institute for the past 25 years are yet to be regularised.
Refuting the allegations, manager of the Red Cross institute Leela Dar said: "We are following the guidelines."
Admitting that the institute has only one permanent teacher since 2009, Dar said: "We sent a request for three contractual Braille teachers and we got them. The rest seven are from ministry of social justice and empowerment."
The manager said the annual budget for running the institute was `40 to `50 lakh. Presently 20 students are availing the services in the institute which gets around `6 lakh grant from the government. The rest is managed from various Red Cross funds.
The manager admitted that the institute was spending on the eloped couples living under government protection in the adjoining building.
"The district administration has directed us to do so and we have to provide them three meals. We have written to the police to shift the protection home from here. Once it gets shifted, we don't have to bear this extra burden," Dar said.
On library and other facilities, the manager said: "Last week, we wrote to the National Institute of Visually Handicapped, Dehradun, and asked them for CDs for students."
Earlier, the association members took out a protest rally from Krantimaan Park to District Red Cross office here. The protesters raised slogans against the Red Cross institute and demanded action the officials. They also submitted a demand charter to the district sessions judge, who was in the institute for a visit.