Over 12,000 teachers, working in government schools under centrally sponsored schemes in the state, have not been paid salaries for months.
The teachers, recruited under the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) have been awaiting salaries for the past four months, while those appointed under the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) have been without salaries for the past five months.
Even senior laboratory assistants, working under the RMSA, have not been paid for more than 10 months. A senior official in the education department said that the delay on the part of the state government in submitting utilisation certificates (UCs) for the funds provided by the Centre under the scheme, was one of the main reasons for delay in releasing salaries. “The Central government department stalled the funds for the scheme due to this particular reason. However, the state government has now submitted UCs,” an official said.
On the other hand, education minister Daljeet Singh Cheema denied delay in submitting UCs on the part of the Punjab government. “Salaries have been delayed due to delay on the part of the Centre in preparing a detailed project financial plan for the 2016-2017 financial year,” Cheema said.
According to sources, teachers under the SSA get 65% share of their salary from the Centre, while the state government pays the remaining 35%. However, in the case of RMSA teachers, the Centre pays 75% of the salary, while the rest 25% is paid by the state. Hardeep Singh, state vice-president of SSA/RMSA teachers association, said they had meetings with senior officials of the education ministry on several occasions to expedite the release of salaries, but to no avail.
“The officials concerned made lame excuses every time and claimed technical snarls at the Central and the state levels as one of the reasons behind the delay,” he said. Cheema, however, said the department has been directed to clear pending salaries of teachers at the earliest on priority. “Recently, we were provided with `26 crore by the Centre to carry out works under the SSA. The department will hopefully release salaries after making financial adjustments,” Cheema said.
The teachers have planned to hold a statewide rally here on Sunday. Besides the early release of pending salaries, the union is also demanding regularisation of their jobs and cancellation of criminal cases registered against over 50 teachers during the protest in Bathinda in 2012.
The state government has already constituted a high-level committee to discuss their regularisation and even sought feedback from teachers. But, the committee is yet to submit its suggestions to the education department.