Durgapur, Oct. 16: Three teachers of state-funded primary schools in Sonamukhi town of Bankura have been operating as enlisted contractors with the irrigation department.
Officials accused the teachers of violating rules. The government had issued an order in 1995 saying schoolteachers holding permanent posts should not be enlisted as government contractors. Members of the association of contractors in the district have lodged separate complaints with the irrigation department and the District Primary School Council demanding action against the teachers.
The district council has transferred one of the accused teachers on the basis of the complaint. Gyan Shankar Mishra, the chairman of the Bankura primary school council, admitted that one of the accused teachers has been transferred to Jamshola, 60 km from Sonamukhi, as a “temporary penal measure”. Mishra said a detailed inquiry is on and “drastic” action could be taken against all of them if found guilty.
Irrigation officials in the district have started a separate inquiry. Officials said the contractors had alleged that the three teachers, besides working full-time in school, were attached to the right-bank division of the Damodar irrigation circle since the 1980s. The association has demanded immediate expulsion of the three teachers from the list of contractors.
“Action will be taken against the teachers if the allegations are proved right. The punishment may be as grave as dismissal from job,” said G.A. Khan, the district magistrate. He added that once the inquiries by the primary education council and the irrigation department are through, a vigilance probe may follow.
Sources in the education department said the government has taken the allegation of “malpractice” by teachers very seriously. More so because it recently introduced a rule banning private tuition by schoolteachers and barring them from earning money from any source other than their salary.
Schoolteachers in the state have often alleged that they had not been getting salary regularly. But that was not the case with the trio. They were drawing their monthly pay packet of around Rs 10,000 regularly.
Irrigation officials said the right-bank division of the Damodar circle covers over 200,000 acres of agricultural land. In a year, on an average, the division floats work orders worth Rs 5 crore. The three teachers had allegedly been getting orders worth several lakhs every year.
S.A. Kasem, the executive engineer of the right-bank division, said a departmental inquiry is on to find out how the teachers were allowed to serve as contractors despite the government order banning it.
Sources in the education department said the government is very serious about attendance of teachers at the primary level and have asked them to devote their time to classrooms. “We consider education at the primary level most important and in the districts, primary schools cater to the economically weaker sections and backward classes. We will not tolerate anyone neglecting his duty to earn money as a contractor,” said an official.