Mumbai: BMC chief Ajoy Mehta grilled over lack of subsidy for private-aided schools

Mumbai: The BMC Corporators unanimously blamed the commissioner, Ajoy Mehta, for not issuing subsidies to 71 aided private primary schools in Mumbai. Over 120 teachers have been protesting at Azad Maidan for the past 12 days and had protested outside the offices of the civic chief and the standing committee chairman, Yashwant Rao, demanding subsidies. Due to the non-allocation of the subsidies, the teachers have not been getting pay on time. “We are paid a paltry Rs4,000-Rs 6,000 a month. So­metimes, we don’t get it at all.

All our issues will be addressed once the BMC releases the subsidy. When we met Mehta, he said the matter was a state subject,” said a striking teacher. At the house meet, a point of order was raised by the Shiv Sena corporator and the chairman of the education committee, Mangesh Satamkar, who blamed the commissioner for his recalcitrant attitude towards teachers.

“Despite all group leaders of the BMC agreeing to grant the subsidy, why hasn’t the commissioner agreed yet? The schools have not got any aid in the last 15 years. Teachers have very low or no salaries because of non-availability of grant. The BMC has a budget for all its fancy projects, but can’t it spend a meagre amount for primary school teachers?” asked Satamkar.

Had the BMC decided to allot the subsidy retrospectively, the amount would have exceeded by Rs250 crore. “We do not want retrospective payments. Even if the payment is made from the current day, we are fine,” said another teacher. As the matters stand, it will cost the corporation Rs55 crore only. The subsidy is equally borne by BMC and state government. However, for the past several years, the state government has not paid dues worth Rs2,600 crore, informed Satamkar.

The Sena corporator and the chairman of the improvements committee, Dilip Lande, questioned the BMC approach: “In the past and even today, the BMC has appointed consultants for various projects which are yet to start. It has paid the consultants lavishly. But it cannot afford to pay a meagre amount to teachers?” asked Lande.  “Why is the municipal commissioner not ready to listen to the demands of the elected representatives,” questioned the corporators cutting across party lines.

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