Millennium Post

'Teachers are the backbone of our nation'

Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday distributed prizes among 13 schools from across the state and conferred 'Siksha Ratna' on the professors from various colleges and universities on the occasion of Teachers' Day at Netaji Indoor Stadium.

Banerjee said that the teachers play the role of guardians in schools and contribute towards the building of the nation. "I salute the teachers who prepare our future generations by providing them education and values. They are the backbone of our nation. We still remember the teachers who once taught us in various levels of our student days. We bow our head in respect when we meet our teachers. We celebrate the Teachers' Day on the birth anniversary of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan," Banerjee said.

She also said that the state government has been working amidst various adversities caused by the Centre as they are denying funds for various projects. She also assured the teachers that the state government will try its best to meet their requirements, but the fund crunch has posed a serious challenge for the government.

"In the last 8 years we have had some bitter experience. This year we have to pay a debt of Rs 55,000 crore to the Centre. How would you meet all the demands when the losses incurred by the government far outweigh the income of the state? In this economic situation, how would we provide cycles to the students under Sabuj Sathi scheme? How would we run Kanyashree project, Swasthya Sathi project and Khadya Sathi project when the state faces severe fund crunch? We can still proudly say that in last 8 years, we have run all the schemes," Banerjee stated while addressing the gathering.

"The Centre promises to provide fund in the ratio of 50/50. After the projects start, the Centre withdraws its share and stops providing funds. But we cannot stop the projects and hence we have to bear the whole economic burden of the projects. We had to pay 80 percent of the total amount of the crop insurance project. They have now stopped disbursing their share. Never think that we are not denying your rights. If we had enough money, we would have provided it to you," the Chief Minister told the teachers who attended the programme. Banerjee's comment comes at a time when some of the Opposition parties are accusing the government of not providing the dearness allowances at par with the Centre.

"We have no problems in meeting your demands but how can we generate funds? The Centre has been deducting a huge amount of money as cess, customs duties and others. They take Rs 40,000 crore from us. In return they used to provide us Rs 8,000-9,000 crore but that has been stopped as well," Banerjee stated.

"We do not take water tax. We have made health services completely free. We provide subsidy of Rs 27 per kg of food grains that are being distributed under Khadya Sathi scheme. The state government's capacities are limited. Other state governments have stopped pensions of teachers and other government employees. We are still providing pensions, as otherwise it would have an impact on the employees," she said. It may be mentioned here that Congress leader Omprakash Mishra, who joined Trinamool Congress on Wednesday, was among the recipients of 'Siksha Ratna'.

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