SSA: 40k teachers without salaries as HRD ministry stops funds

SHABIR AHMAD

Anantnag: India’s Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry has stopped funds to J&K for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) after the state government failed to release its share to run the programme and submit utilisation certificate for the funds provided earlier.
Due to blockade of funds, at least 40 thousand teachers appointed under the SSA remain unpaid for last eight months.
President of the Teachers’ Forum, Abdul Qayoom Wani said that due to the fault of the state government, the HRD ministry was justifying its blocking the funds.
“I met top officials of the HRD ministry in New Delhi who told me in clear terms that until and unless the state government does not submit the fund utilisation certificate and release its own share amounting to Rs 42 crore, they won’t release any funds,” Wani told Kashmir Reader over phone from Delhi.
SSA was launched in the state in 2003 with the objective of universalisation of elementary education. The funds for the implementation of the scheme are contributed through 65:35 Centre-State ratio. Thousands of teachers were appointed under the scheme across the state.
Wani said the state authorities’ lies that New Delhi had halted the funds without any reason have been exposed.
“We had called for protests at Jantar Mantar on January 30, but before that I decided to meet the HRD ministry and inform them about our plan. The officials there exposed the lies of the state authorities who have been telling us for last one year that they are at no fault,” Wani said.
If the state does not release its pending share of Rs 42 crore and ensure the release of halted funds from HRD ministry, “we will launch an indefinite strike,” Wani said. “My colleagues are suffering for want of salaries. Their families are starving due to the callousness of the previous government. So we are giving a week’s deadline to the state authorities, and if they fail to release their pending share before the deadline we will go for indefinite strike. Employees will come on roads.”
State project director SSA, Shameem Ahmad Laharwal said the state government releases its share only after every installment is released by the Centre.
“It is not that the state does not contribute its share. There is some part of state share which is pending. HRD ministry has released its first installment only and is not releasing the second installment. The ministry has not even released last year’s Rs 270 crore which led to the crisis,” Laharwal said.
He said the state government is likely to clear its share in next one week for which the requisition has been sent.