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Kerala: Literacy worker commits suicide after Pinarayi Vijayan government does not pay salary for over 6 months

Reportedly, 1,714 literacy preraks in Kerala have been denied their salaries for the last six months due to the state government’s 'financial crisis.'

On Thursday, February 9, ES Bijumon, a saksharata prerak (literacy worker) of the Kerala State Literacy Mission Authority committed suicide due to the inordinate delay in the disbursement of his salary. The Block-level literacy prerak, who had been felicitated with a President’s award for best literacy prerak, was amongst the 1,714 literacy preraks in Kerala who have been denied salaries for the last six months due to the state government’s ‘financial crisis.’

According to reports, Bijumon has been a member of the Kerala Sakshartha Prerak Association for over 20 years. For the past 82 days, the organization’s preraks (literacy workers) have been protesting outside the Secretariat, over non-payment of salaries.

Bijumon was also among the workers who were protesting against the state government, which has reportedly not been paying these workers their dues for the last 6 months, citing a financial crisis.

Speaking about the tragedy, the State Saksharata Prerak Association State Secretary AA Santhosh told the media that workers were on an indefinite strike for the last 82 days. “The workers have been working for the department since 2009. In 2017, they were transferred from the public education department to the local self-government department. Since then, their salaries have been reduced, and they are not getting regular salaries either,” he said.

According to Santhosh, the preraks are now requesting Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to intervene and resolve their problem. “The state government also issued an order in this regard for utilizing the services of preraks in the local body department, but it could not be implemented as the finance department and local body department had different opinions. Now we are demanding the intervention from the Chief Minister,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Kerala Saksharatha Preraks Association District Secretary Sheerja said that the deceased Bijimon used to say that if someone gets “martyred”, only then will they get justice. “He was in a serious financial crisis, and is survived by two sisters and an old mother,” said Sheerja.

Sheerja further said that a block-level nodal officer with the literacy mission is entitled to get Rs 15,000 a month. However, often this amount would vary depending upon the number of enrolments in various literacy programs. Often, even a block-level officer would get only less than Rs 10,000.

The Indian Express quoted the deceased’s mother Vijayamma as saying, “After the death of his father, he was looking after me and my daughters. We were surviving on his meager income. Several times during the last six months, we did not have money to even buy basic provisions.”

Pinarayi Vijayan govt considered deferring salaries of govt employees due to financial crisis

Notably, in May last year, OpIndia reported how the Pinarayi Vijayan-led Communist government in Kerala, faced its worst economic crisis as the state had no funds to provide salaries to its employees. As there were not enough funds, the Kerala government had reportedly considered setting aside almost 10 percent of salaries for that month.

Union govt had paused funds over miscalculation of its previous borrowings

The union government had delayed giving Kerala permission to borrow more money considering there were issues in the financial statements of previous years. The CAG had said that borrowings of the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) and the Public Service Undertakings should also be accounted for in the government’s balance sheet. However, the Kerala government opposed such a move. The union government had also sought an explanation on the utilization of the additional loan permitted during the Covid-19 lockdown.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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