PMC delays salary of 55 counsellors for 3 months
For the last six years, the Pune Municipal Board’s (PMC) education department has been running a unique project, under which its students studying in 306 schools are offered guidance with the help of 55 counsellors from an institute. However, the fate of this project is currently in danger, as the counsellors have not received their salaries for the last three months.
The PMC’s education department has passed the buck to the corporation, which has been handling its finances since last year. Pic/Shashank Sane
The education board has passed the buck to the PMC for this lapse, as the authority to approve all finances was shifted to the corporation last year. “We have passed the file to the PMC and have been consistently following up on it.
But every time we ask, they counter with some queries and send it back,” said Pradeep Dhumal, the education board chairman.
According to Dhumal, the delay in payments is not only limited to the counselling project, but other facilities provided to students are also facing similar issues. “We provide transport facility to some schools, and the auto and bus drivers have not received salaries since June. Every day it is becoming more and more difficult for us to run the board,” he added.
Vyaktitva Vikas Prabodhini, which runs the project, is struggling to ensure their counsellors get paid. “We have been associated with the education board since the last six years and have never faced any major delay in payments. Now, with Diwali approaching, we are finding it hard to convince our counsellors to work without pay and have started using our institute’s savings. The PMC should consider our case on priority basis,” said Dr Bharat Desai, director of the institute.
On its part, the education board appreciates the success of the project and wants to increase the number of counsellors to 100. “We really want to increase the number of counsellors and reach out to every school and student facing problems. We have observed a positive effect on students, who were not even interested in studies before, but are now taking interest in extra-curricular activities as well,” said Dhumal. He added that once the elections are over, he would follow up on all pending payments with the civic body.
The director of the institute had also approached the PMC Commissioner, Kunal Kumar, to discuss the pending payments. “We received a good response from the Commissioner and he immediately moved the file to clear our counsellors’ payments. But now, it has been two weeks and there has been no progress,” said Desai.
Despite repeated attempts to contact the Commissioner, he could not be reached for a comment.
Students of Std I to VII get the benefit of special counselling sessions, workshops and games conducted by counsellors. Currently, nearly one lakh students studying in 306 schools are covered under this project.