Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, February 10
The cash-strapped Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) has written to the state departments of Finance and Social Welfare and the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) authorities, seeking the release of dues.
The government owes over Rs 186 crore to the board, which publishes books at subsidised rates for lakhs of government school students, conducts examinations and finalises the syllabi for all classes in state-run schools. The amount is more than half of the board’s annual budget (Rs 328 crore).
The dues include Rs 24 crore owed by the state chapter of the SSA — the Centre’s flagship progamme jointly funded by the state and Central government on a 50:50 basis.
Sources stated that despite repeated requests, the state government had released only Rs 12.5 crore in this financial year so far.
As per the policy, the board is responsible for distributing books free of cost among Scheduled Caste (SC) students of government schools from classes I to XII before the start of every academic session. The state Department of Social Welfare is supposed to foot the bill of these books. Under the SSA, books are provided free of cost to non-SC students from classes I to VIII.
The board also doesn’t charge examination fee from SC students. The Social Welfare Department is liable to make the payment to the PSEB in this regard.
According to officials, the state government owes Rs 140 crore to the PSEB for the books, while a payment of Rs 22 crore — pertaining to the examination fee waiver of SC students — is also pending.
“Last year, the government had promised to provide Rs 50 crore to the board from July to October in four instalments. The board received only the first instalment of Rs 12.5 crore in July. The rest was not released by the state treasury even though the bills were cleared by the Department of Finance,” an official said.
PSEB Chairman Balbir Singh Dhol said, “We have taken up the matter with the authorities concerned. We are hopeful of getting a share of the dues before the end of the government’s term.”
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