Jammu, Mar 4: ReT teachers are at the verge of starvation as the Government has failed to release their salaries for last over six months now for no fault of theirs.
According to sources, the ReT teachers, who were working under Sarav Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), a Centrally Sponsored Scheme, have been denied salaries for over last six months now after their regularization. These teachers are running from pillar to post for justice but to no avail.
The callousness of the Government towards these hapless teachers who are serving the Education Department for over a decade now has forced some of them to work as laborers on PMGSY schemes during Sundays and other holidays in far-flung and remote areas of the State to earn their livelihood, sources added.
Sources said there is such callousness on the part of authorities that in some cases they have declared the ReT teachers surplus and are warning their termination with the result their fate is hanging in balance now. Seeing the future bleak, the leaders of the ReT teachers are camping in Jammu making rounds in corridors of Civil Secretariat to prevail upon the Government to do justice with them.
Sources said that the authorities’ apathy is so bizarre towards these teachers that in some districts ReT teachers were not provided salaries for over a year and so after their regularization while other who are waiting for regularization are also without salaries for over a year now.
In Kishtwar district, 15 ReT teachers working under SSA are without salaries since June 2015 while seven ReT teachers who were regularized in June 2014 were without salaries since August 2015.
Krishan Lal Thakur, a representative of these teachers, said “for five months the CEO Kishtwar informed us that the salaries will be paid after funds are released by the Central Government, but later he refuted saying that you have been declared surplus”. “Since then we are running form pillar to post but do not get justice”, he added.
Some of the families of ReT teachers are at the verge of starvation due to the non payment of salaries, he added.
The decision of the officers to declare the ReTs surplus in some districts has drawn widespread criticism also with people questioning the policies of the successive Governments. When there was no need of ReT teachers why the Government appointed them questioned some employee leaders of the State. After rendering their prime youth to serve the State, the officers are declaring them surplus at such a time when many of them have turned overage and are not eligible to apply for any other Government job.
This has also generated a lot of confusion among the ReT teachers and they accuse the Government of having no clear cut policy on this issue.
The problem is not faced by ReT teachers in Kishtwar district alone but same is the case with Doda, Kathua, Samba, Ramban, Udhampur, Poonch, Rajouri, Reasi and Udhampur districts also as well as in Kashmir division.
“The Ret teachers are facing mental agony and torture”, said Khalil Khan State chief coordinator of ReT Teachers Forum. Those teachers, who were appointed under Education Guarantee Scheme (EGS) in 2004 and 2005 in Rajouri district and later were converted as ReT teachers in 2008 have not been regularized till date. Though these teachers were eligible for regularization as per the norms set by the Government after completion of five years regular service as ReTs in the year 2013, till date their regularization orders were not issued, he added.
In Poonch district 61 ReTs who were eligible to be promoted as general line teachers have been deprived of the benefits, said Khan.
He said 1000 ReTs in Poonch are without salaries and the plight of teachers is so grave and they are facing exploitation to such an extent that some of them are working laborers on MGNREGA schemes on Sundays and other holidays to keep their body and soul together.
In Poonch district 61 ReT teachers who were declared surplus have served the Education Department for 13 long years. Though these teachers are struggling for their regularization the Joint Director Education has written a letter to CEO Poonch not to entertain them as they have been declared as surplus and he had recommended for their termination.
The problem is being faced by ReT teachers working under SSA all over the State and thousands of such teachers are without salaries for months together, said Hari Singh president J&K United School Teachers Association.
He said the SSA scheme is mainly funded by Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD) which pays 90 percent share while the State share is 10 percent only. The non payment of salaries is due to delay in release of funds by MHRD.
However, a delegation of the ReT teachers who took up the issue with Education Minister, Altaf Bukhari and MoS Education, Priya Sethi recently were assured by them that the problem will be solved from April this year as State Government will take up the issue with Union Government.
“We are optimistic that the Government will keep its word and settle the problem once and for all from next month” said Arvind Kumar Sharma, Provincial president Rehbar-e-Taleem Teachers Forum.
He said thousands of ReT teachers are without salaries from September last year. However, in some districts the salaries of October and November were released while those of December, January and February are still pending.
When contacted, Saugat Biswas, Project Director SSA said that the salaries have been released upto September 2016 all over the State. The problem is due to delay in release of funds by MHRD. “We are awaiting for the funds and making best efforts on our level for the same and as soon as they are released, the salaries will be paid to all teachers”, he added.