Raju writes to Chidambaram, terms cut in funds 'unjustified'

Raju writes to Chidambaram, terms cut in funds 'unjustified' New Delhi: Not happy over the seven percent cut in his Ministry's revised budget for this fiscal, HRD Minister M M Pallam Raju has shot off a strong letter to Finance Minister P Chidambaram, terming the step as "unjustified".

The Finance Ministry had last month imposed around seven percent cut in the Rs 45,000 crore school education and literacy budget to control expenditure in view of the economic slowdown.

Protesting the move, Raju especially highlighted the Rs 209 crore slash in funds allocated for the centrally-sponsored scheme of teacher education for the 2012-13 fiscal, demanding retention of the funds allocated for it.

Funds under this programme have been reduced from Rs 500 crore to Rs 292 crore.

"This appears unjustified as the revised scheme of teacher education was approved by the cabinet committee on economic affairs in March 2012 and the revised guidelines and annual work format prepared after a nationwide consultation were circulated to all states," he said in his letter.

The reduction of the budget at revised estimate stage comes at a time when special effort is being made to revamp the teacher education system critical for improving quality of education, he mentioned.

Raju further said the cut would hamper delivery of the scheme as the Ministry would require more than the budget earmarked under it.

As of January 21, Rs 220.26 crore has been released under the teacher education scheme while proposals worth Rs 15.05 crore are under process for formal release. Besides, Rs 155.40 crore has to be released as second instalment even as proposals from some big states are yet to be received.

"Therefore, we actually require more funds than the original allocation of Rs 500 crore for the teacher education scheme," he said.

Budget for higher education sector has also been reduced by about 13 percent, which had got Rs 15,458 crore.

PTI