The ruling BJP government in Karnataka passing an order for deducting money from the November salaries of public servants for the Punyakoti Adoption Scheme — meant for cow protection — has not gone down well with them.
They allege that the government is now interfering with their fundamental rights by sticking its fingers into the pockets of government employees.
The Karnataka government on 15 November passed an order stating that public servants would have to contribute a part of their salaries for the cow protection/adoption scheme named Punyakoti Dattu Yojana in the state.
Though the contributions are not compulsory, those employees who are unwilling to contribute can give it in writing as to why they were not contributing, stated the government circular.
The circular read that a Group-A employee had to contribute ₹11,000, while a Group-B employee had to give ₹4,000, while those in Group-C was ₹400, and Group-D employees could give however much they wished.
Questions in how funds would be used
The Vidhan Soudha Secretariat Employees Association is not at all happy with the recent government’s circular as they are apprehensive about where would all these funds would go, especially after the Karnataka High Court recently stated that there are hundreds of goshalas which are non-existent — they exist only in names.
“There were almost 4-5 lakh government jobs available when I tried to apply for a government job, and a majority of us who applied for the jobs were farmers’ sons and daughters,” said Guruswamy, president of the association
“We were farmers’ sons, and we know very well how to take care of our cows,” he added.
Guruswamy told South First: “We had individually contributed one day’s salary for the Belagavi floods in July this year. We also contributed a day’s salary for the Kodagu’s landslides and when the rain wreaked havoc. Though we all were working as Covid-19 warriors, we also contributed our one day’s salary for the pandemic-affected people as well.”
He added: “It has been 18 months since the government released our DA (Dearness Allowances). It is not a question of how much is being deducted or cut from our salaries to go to the cow protection scheme. We have been fighting for our payscale’s revision over the past five-six years and we are also confident that during the pandemic and crisis times, we were the ones filling the government treasury.”
Employees’ associations raise other objections
Karnataka Legislative Council Employees Association President Srikanth said he thought less than one in 10 government employees would contribute to this scheme.
“The state government claimed in its order that cows were an integral part of our culture and prosperity, and the government was taking into consideration a proposal by the Karnataka State Government Employees’ Association president that a scheme of cow protection and adoption — the Punyakoti Adoption Scheme — could be mooted and the funds raised for cow protection,” he noted
“The government acknowledged and appreciated the proposal and issued an order on 15 November stating that public servants could contribute money from their salaries depending on their cadres. However, the government did not consult any of the cadre associations and took the decision unilaterally,” he added.
“This is our hard-earned money, and we deserve the right to give it willingly or not,” Srikanth told South First.
“The market index of a government employee’s salary and that of a private firm employee is almost the same, and the government cannot play with our salaries like this,” he added.
“There are around 6,000 employees working with the Legislative Council in Vidhan Soudha — most of them enrolled in the association are Group-C — and more than 5,500 are unwilling to contribute anything towards this scheme,” he said.
“Only a few employees and officers would contribute, and that is the practical fact. If one wants, they could examine the salary credit account statements next month as to how many have contributed to the scheme. As president of the Council Secretariat Employees’ Association, I am not going to contribute even a single paisa to this scheme,” Srikanth told South First.
Karnataka Legislative Assembly Employees Association President Suresh V Mallally told South First that Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai had called for a meeting of government employees associations around 15-20 days ago, where he said whoever contributed from their salaries to the Punyakoti Dattu Yojane would be exempted under the Income Tax rules.
However, when the government order came, there was no mention of any income-tax rebate on the donation/contribution, and that members of the association decided not to contribute any amount from their salaries.
“It is the Seventh Pay Commission, and the government had already promised us our upgraded pay would be set right by January-February this year. But now, government servants are apprehensive as to whether the chief minister will keep up his words or not,” Malally told South First.