New Delhi: The teaching staff of the Delhi University (DU) lined up on Friday to form a human chain in protest against the Aam Aadmi Party-led state government delaying release of grants to colleges under it. The delay has compounded woes for many as salaries are due since months, the teachers said.
The protest, called by Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA), saw over hundred teachers, along with few belonging to non-teaching sections as well, standing shoulder to shoulder along the sideways in Mandi House amid heavy police presence.
Out of the 28 DU-affiliated colleges that receive their funding – full or partial – from the Delhi government, 12 are yet to receive the sanctioned grants-in-aid. These 12 colleges, where salaries have not been disbursed, are among those fully funded by the Delhi government.
As August-end nears, it will be four months since Raj Kumar, the sole breadwinner of his family, got his monthly salary – with the last salary in April also not paid in full,
“I have ran out of people who will agree to lend me some money,” he said.
Employed as a section officer (administration) in Delhi University’s Keshav Mahavidyalaya, Kumar told NewsClick: “The matter rests with the university administration and Delhi government,” adding that his sufferings were “totally unjustified.”
The AAP government has maintained that the withholding of grants pertains to the issue of the non-formation governing bodies, a statutory group responsible for taking all the administrative and financial decisions, in these colleges. In August, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia also indicated “corruption”, while questioning the “inability” of the colleges to pay salaries to the staff “despite 70% budget increase in five years”.
The Delhi University administration, in response, has denied the corruption charges, while its teachers’ body has condemned the “excuses” cited by the AAP government as “unacceptable”, in a statement issued on Thursday, August 20.
“It is unfortunate that inordinate delay in grants and the ongoing crisis is destabilising these units (the 12 colleges),” the DUTA statement said.
Balram Pani, Dean of Colleges, told NewsClick that governing bodies have been formed in eight out of the 12 colleges under the Delhi government. “In others, the process is going on, with the delay also caused due to the prevailing COVID-19 situation,” he said.
The withholding of grants to colleges is a “misguided” move by the Delhi government, Pani, who is also Principal of Bhaskaracharya College of Applied Sciences, said. This is so because, “teachers and non-teaching staff have no role in the process of forming the governing bodies,” he added.
On Thursday, a section of teachers belonging to Delhi Teachers’ Association (DTA) claimed to have received an assurance from Sisodia on release of grants to six colleges, where governing bodies have been formed. Pani, however, claimed that “no official communication has yet been received,” as on Friday morning.
An official of the Directorate of Higher Education, Delhi, which oversees funding to colleges, was not immediately available for a comment, when contacted.
Pani also pitched for an audit into the books of the colleges which, according to him are “routine excercises” to check any financial corruption.
Meanwhile, Abha Dev Habib, treasurer, DUTA, accused the AAP government of engaging in a “political tussle” with the administration of DU, a central university that receives grants from the University Grants Commission, with regards to acquiring “greater control over the functioning of the colleges.”
In such a case, where the staff is made to suffer, is “completely inhuman”, she said. “There are ad-hoc teachers, contract workers among those who are affected by this ‘game’; many of them not in the eco-system of affording to live without salaries,” she added.
Moreover, the teachers, she added, were not just “employees” at the university but also “citizens” of the state. “What about the responsibility of the Delhi government towards its citizens – which also include teachers and non-teaching staff, who need their salaries?” she said.
The total number of those yet to receive their dues in the 12 affected colleges nears 2,000. One among them is also Surendra Singh, a professor in Keshav Mahavidyalaya. Like others, he also last received his salary in April. Speaking with Newsclick, he shared his ordeal of the last few months: “The days are only becoming tougher to survive.... it shouldn’t have to be this way at all.”