DIBRUGARH, Aug 31 - At least 182 retired employees of the Dibrugarh University have died without getting any pension benefits promised to them. Among the deceased, some 47 employees have left behind no heirs to claim the family pension if it is disbursed in the near future.
About 422 retired employees of the varsity, most of whom are in their eighties and nineties now, have been made to run from pillar to post for their due rights. About 40 of the retired employees are widows now. Four have been bound to wheelchairs. Several members have been ailing and are not in good physical and mental health.
These retired employees, including both teaching and non-teaching staff, have been fighting for their dues under the banner of the Dibrugarh University Pensioners� Association (DUPA) for the past few years. These octogenarians and nonagenarians even met the Assam Governor, Chief Minister, Education Minister and Vice Chancellor of the university more than once, both in Guwahati and here, but their efforts did not bear any fruits.
�We were assured on all occasions, but nothing was done. Finally, we approached the Gauhati High Court, which gave an interim judgment to make pension available to the retired staff of the Dibrugarh University within August, 2016. But till date, the retired employees have been deprived of pension,� rued Dr Sarat Chandra Sharma, executive member, DUPA, at a press conference here today.
It may be mentioned here that after long and sustained efforts on the part of the retired employees and the Coordination Committee of Dibrugarh University for Pension, the Assam Government passed the Dibrugarh University (Amendment) Act, 2013 to provide pension to the retired employees with effect from April 1, 2013.
The Act clearly states in Section 30 (A) that all employees, who joined service in the Dibrugarh University before February 1, 2005 and who have retired or expired before the Act came into force, will be entitled to receive pension or family pension as the case may be, under the provisions of the Act.
It is also stated in the Act that �the University shall regulate the matter regarding implementation and payment of pension and family pension to their employees by such Authority of the University as may be determined by the University.� It is provided in the Act that �granting and eligibility of pension shall be guided by the Assam Services (Pension) Rules 1969.� Further, �pension under this section 30 (A) (3) shall include superannuation pension and family pension only and does not include gratuity.�
The Government had later released Rs 2 crore to initiate the pension process. The university authority started paying one-third of the dues as monthly pension from November, 2013 due to lack of sufficient funds, as informed by the then university authorities. The university gave one-third pension to pensioners and family pensioners for two years but stopped paying the same from November, 2015.
�The failure to disburse pension to the retired employees of the Dibrugarh University has pushed the pensioners to misery. Widows and ailing octogenarians and nonagenarians are particularly finding it hard to make ends meet. They hardly have money to purchase medicines for themselves,� said Lakhkyanath Kuli, working president of DUPA.
Dr RK Kar, former acting vice chancellor and head of the Department of Anthropology, Dibrugarh University, said that the Dibrugarh University earns from several sources, including tea plantation, and yet it claims that it has no funds. The varsity authorities, however, do not have any trouble in carrying out unnecessary facelift works like beautification of halls, chambers and lawns, he complained.
Meanwhile, the Dibrugarh University authorities have circulated a notification for payment of some monthly gratuity to the employees who retired from service before April 1, 2013 and to give pension to those who retired after March 31, 2013 in apparent violation of the Dibrugarh University (Amendment) Act, 2013 and also the Gauhati High Court order of May 11, 2016. The pensioners� association has resolved to receive pension alone and not any gratuity.