10 yrs after inception, Kamdhenu University still awaits sanction for pension benefits

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Prakashchandra Manilal Patel, who served for 38 years at Dairy Science College Anand, succumbed to Covid-19 on April 24 this year. Working as a draftsman, he was transferred to Kamdhenu University Gandhinagar on April 1, 2021. With his sudden death, the family’s last hope for his daughter’s pending marriage was his pension and retirement benefits.

However, almost eight months since his death, the family is still waiting for the pension benefits. However Prakashchandra’s case is not an exception.

More than a decade since it was established and over seven years after it started operations, Kamdhenu University in Gandhinagar does not have a provision to provide pension to its retired staff.

Further, in the absence of its own statute, the university is following the Common Statutes for Agricultural Universities of Gujarat, 2011 applicable to four agricultural universities – — Anand Agricultural University, Junagadh Agricultural University, Navsari Agricultural University and Sardarkrushinagar Dantiwada Agricultural university.

Following a notification of Gujarat Universities Laws (Amendment) Act,2020 on April 1,2021, approving a long-pending demand of the newly formed Kamdhenu University, eleven colleges affiliated to the four agricultural Universities with nearly 500 staff was transferred to Kamdhenu University.

However, 18 teaching and non teaching employees under the university are still waiting sanction for their pension benefits.

The matter was taken to the state government, through a communication on June 5, 2019, but the issue still stands unresolved.

“This is to inform that since there is no direction from the state government regarding pension, there is no provision for the same in the grant allocated by the state government….Since as per rules paperwork for the retirement process has to be initiated 24 months before retirement”, the communication had stated.

When contacted, sources in the Kamdhenu University revealed that “the university does not have any authority from the Finance Department” to issue pension benefits to its employees. Though they are following up the matter with the state government, in the absence of a “principal sanction’ to allow pension benefits as per the other four state agricultural universities, the “procedural lapses are causing delay”.

A day after Union Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandary and Dairying, Parshottam Rupala wrote to Raghavji Patel Minister of Agriculture and Animal Husbandary-raising the issue of pending pension benefits, the state government held a meeting on November 24 to discuss the issue.

“The state government has assured in the meeting that the issue will be resolved at the earliest. Already, work has been started in this regard,” Kamdhenu University Vice-Chancellor N H Kelawala told The Indian Express.

Government sources revealed that since these four agricultural universities denied to approve pension cases of transferred staff to Kamdhenu University, the state government has approved Kamdhenu University to sanction these cases.

Rupala in his letter has stated, “From April 1,2021 state’s veterinary, dairy, fisheries science colleges and polytechnic institutes have been transferred to Kamdhenu University… I have received complaints that despite their (teaching and non-teaching staff transferred to Kamdhenu University) submission of opting for pension from their parent university, these agriculture universities are not approving the same. I seek from the state government to investigate the case as per rules and take appropriate action’.

On November 3, 2021 the state government issued a show-cause seeking explanation within 10 days from the three universities- Anand Agricultural University, Junagadh Agricultural University and Sardarkrushinagar Dantiwada Agricultural University.

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