Sunday, February 27, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Stir threat casts shadow on exams
From A. S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Feb 26 — The threat by managements, principals, teaching and non-teaching employees of 162 non-government affiliated colleges in Punjab and Chandigarh to launch a combined agitation from tomorrow has cast a shadow over the conduct of annual examinations due to begin in April.

The Joint Action Committee of these colleges, which has already observed a “save education day” on February 14, will now hold a mass rally at Guru Nanak Dev University in Amritsar tomorrow.

This will be followed by a joint march to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha on the opening day of its Budget session next month to highlight the problems of non-government colleges.

“If there is no response from the government, the agitation would be intensified with serious consequences for the annual examinations of the universities,” warned Dr Ishwar Singh, president of the Non-government Colleges Management Federation of Punjab and Chandigarh, in a talk with TNS here today.

He said all non-government affiliated colleges of Punjab and Chandigarh were in dire financial straits because of the failure of the government to release grants-in-aid to them. The teachers had not been paid salaries since September, 1999. All developmental activities had come to a grinding halt. A sum of Rs 26 crore was released by the government some time back for payment to the colleges but the treasury was holding up the payment on one pretext or the other, he complained.

Dr Ishwar Singh, Mr Tarsem Bahia and Mr Gurbir Singh Sarna, all office-bearers of the federation, pointed out that 75 per cent of the state’s higher education was in the private sector.

The private colleges had 1.5 lakh students, they said, adding that they did not want a confrontation with the government provided it was willing to discuss and solve their problems. They said that grants under the 95 per cent grant-in-aid scheme had not been released by the government after August, 1999. The colleges were paying the salaries to the staff by raising loans from banks and by using the funds which were meant for development and maintenance of the infrastructure of the colleges.

The 80 per cent share of Central assistance for the implementation of revised UGC pay scales had not been paid to the employees whereas the Punjab Government had already received the same from the Central Government.

Despite some public announcements by the Chief Minister and the Minister for Higher Education that the grant-in-aid scheme would not be scrapped, officers of the Punjab Government had been repeatedly informing the colleges that the grants would be ended soon and no grants were being released.

They said the Akali Dal had promised in its manifesto before the Assembly elections in 1997 that the unaided colleges and unaided posts, which came into existence after 1981, would be brought under the 95 per cent grant-in-aid scheme but till now, no steps had been taken.

The pay scales of government colleges, non-government colleges and the universities were revised on the recommendations of the UGC by the Central Government in order to raise the standard of higher education. But it was strange that the Punjab Government had not revised the pay scales of 23 unaided colleges and also of teachers working against unaided posts in the aided colleges.

The Punjab Government notified a pension-cum-gratuity scheme for the employees of non-government colleges in 1996.

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