Pending payments for over half-a-year leave EMDC school staff distressed

School teachers protesting at the EDMC office in Paptarganj, New Delhi.

School teachers protesting at the EDMC office in Paptarganj, New Delhi. | Photo Credit: R.V. MOORTHY

Giriraj Sharma, a retired municipal school principal, said it has been over seven months since he got his last pension. This is the longest period for which he has not received a pension, Mr. Sharma said.

The 72-year-old is one among the thousands of teachers and pensioners who have been waiting for the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) to clear their dues for over six months. Recently, over 5,000 teachers of 365 primary schools run by the EDMC have moved the Delhi High Court over the non-payment of their salaries since December 2021, demanding all the primary schools be handed over to the Delhi government.

A casualty of the constant power tussle between the Centre and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led Delhi government, the teachers and retirees said things have turned worse after the municipal corporation got trifurcated in 2012.

Mr. Sharma said, “After the trifurcation, the corporation used to delay the release of our pension, but we would usually get them on the third or fourth month. This time, it has been the longest wait.”

Meena Kumari, a primary school teacher at an EDMC school here, said the issue of delay in salaries started a couple of years after the trifurcation of MCD in January 2012.

Ms. Kumari, her family’s sole breadwinner, added that she has not been paid for over six months — the longest delay in the release of her salary since she joined as a permanent teacher. “After trifurcation, there used to be a delay of two months or at the most four months. This time, I haven’t been able to pay my house rent for the past four months and have been scrambling to pay my son’s school fees,” she said.

Teachers working at EDMC-run schools staged a protest outside the civic body’s headquarters on May 9 over the issue of non-payment of their salaries.

Political blame game

Asked about the recurring delays in salaries of the civic body’s school teachers, EDMC Mayor Shyam Sunder Aggarwal placed the onus on the Delhi government, while adding that the latter is yet to clear pending funds of the civic body.

Mr. Aggarwal said despite writing to the government on multiple occasions, the most recent on May 11, the EDMC has received no response while efforts to meet Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia have been of no avail.

“Mr. Sisodia has been sitting on the file regarding our funds. Regardless of the civic body’s unification, it is the government’s duty to pay our due fund,” said Mr. Aggarwal, adding that the EDMC is unable to generate sufficient revenue to pay salaries of its staff.

On the other hand, EDMC Leader of Opposition, Manoj Tyagi (AAP), dismissed Mr. Aggarwal’s claims, saying the Delhi government had made timely payment of funds to the civic body. 

For long, AAP has been citing corruption in the BJP-governed corporations as the reason for the pending salaries of different categories of employees.

High Court’s directions flouted

Over the years, the Delhi High Court has passed numerous orders to the Centre, the Delhi government and the EDMC to clear the salaries and pension of the present and the corporation’s former employees.

“No employee cannot be expected to render sincere services without receiving a salary and his lawful entitlement for services rendered. It is painful to visualize the quality of services which would be rendered by the teachers to children of critical ages studying in primary schools without receipt of their salaries,” the High Court had remarked on January 5, 2018 while hearing a petition by EDMC teachers over the non-payment of salaries.

In another hearing  on April 16, 2018, noting the distress of the current workers and pensioners, the court had said, “We cannot fathom as to how they must be coping with expenses of daily living which would include needs of food, rentals, children’s education, healthcare, social obligations, transportation.”

Dire situation

Virender Pal, a 68-year-old retired school principal, said he is diabetic and being fully dependent on his pension for sustenance, he has not been able to buy his required medication. “I just want my pension to come on time,” he pleaded.

Dinesh Prajapati, an EDMC school teacher in Shastri Park here, said he was finding it “extremely difficult” to arrange the school fees for his two children, pay EMIs and bear other household expenses due to his pending salary.

Satender Kumar, a teacher at an EDMC school, said, “Even after several candlelight marches and protests in recent months, our pleading has fallen on deaf ears.” Mr. Kumar is one of the petitioners who has filed a petition before the High Court over the non-payment of salaries. The court is yet to hear their case.

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Printable version | Jul 4, 2022 6:11:58 am |