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Mumbai: Retired headmistress denied salary, pension of over Rs 8 lakh

BMC holds her responsible for not paying the school's one-month electricity bill worth Rs 78,000

It has been a long unending wait for former school principal Ranjana Jaywant Bhagat. The ex-headmistress of Shivam Vidya Mandir Primary school, a Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)-aided school at Bail Bazaar, Kurla, is fighting a lone battle against the civic body since 2011, the year she retired from her service. The school has not paid her salary from June 2008 to February 2011, amounting to R6 lakh and has also denied her of her pension from the day she retired amounting to R2.64 lakh. The reason: The municipal body holds her responsible for not paying the school’s one-month electricity bill worth Rs 78,000.

Ranjana Jaywant Bhagat (61), the former principal of Shivam Vidya Mandir Primary school
Ranjana Jaywant Bhagat (61), the former principal of Shivam Vidya Mandir Primary school

In 2002, the Shivam Vidya Mandir Primary School started getting aid from the BMC. However, after the widening project of the Mithi River in June 2008, the institute was shifted to Lallubhai Compound (Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) building in Mankhurd.

Under the Right to Information Act, when Bhagat asked the civic body in February 2014 why she was denied her salary and pension despite working there for 21 years, the administration said that the school management had not paid the structure’s electricity bill, and they had conducted classes on second and third floor of the building when they had been asked to occupy only the first and second floor. On October 21 this year, Shiv Sena corporator Yamini Jadhav raised this issue in Education Committee. Jadhav said, “Bhagat was held responsible for the school management’s mistake.”

The retired schoolteacher told sunday mid-day, “I’m tired of running from pillar to post. Over the last three years, I have written numerous letters to the president of India, the mayor, the education minister of state and the chairperson of women’s commission but nothing has happened. I have also met several politicians regarding this matter but it hasn’t yielded any result.”

Bhagat, who stays at Sandhurst Road with her husband, a retired BMC school teacher, said that it has been difficult for her to make ends meet. “I hope I get my pending salary and pension. It’s my right and I have toiled hard for it. Right now, the sole source of income is my husband’s pension, which is R12,000 per month,” the 61-year-old added.

Her husband said, “We don’t have any other source of income. In case of any emergency, we will have to borrow money from others. Since we are old, age-related problems are common. We have lost all hope of getting back our money.”

However, Education officer Shambhavi Jogi blamed the long pending clearance of dues and a court case between MMRDA (the building’s owner) and the BMC as the cause for delay.

She said, “We have started clearing the pending dues of teachers. Since the matter was in court, we couldn’t release Bhagat’s pension and salary. As the case has now been sorted out, we will pay her salary and pension at the earliest.”

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