Pradhan slams govt for ignoring teachers’ pleas

Bhubaneswar: Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan Friday met protesting teachers at Lower PMG here and later criticised the state government for not paying attention to their ‘legitimate’ demands. The teachers have been protesting here in the city for the last 23 days.

He said the government had enough money, but it doesn’t want to bear the burden of Rs 800 crore to meet the demands of teachers. “This has hit not only the teachers, but the future of 35 lakh students too,” said Pradhan.

The minister said the government can spend Rs 1,200 crore for the ‘Ama Gaon, Ama Bikash’ programme and has Rs 400 crore to distribute to party workers through the Biju Yuva Vahini, but has rejected the demands of teachers.

He said the 14th Finance Commission has given additional funds for the development of education in Odisha.

Meanwhile, Congress leader Niranjan Patnaik said that instead of trying to pacify the teachers, the BJD is threatening them. “Do we need this kind of arrogance from lawmakers,” he said.

The teachers have been demanding withdrawal of the controversial affidavit clause in the grant-in-aid system, equal salary for equal work, provision of full aid and other service conditions.

The Convenor of the All Odisha School-College Teachers and Employees’ United Forum said, “We admit that the education of 35 lakh students across the state has been hit by the strike. But it is the government that has forced us to take to the streets.”