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Relief work controversy in JNU

By Anjali Dhal Samanta

NEW DELHI, FEB.8. With the coffee issue simmering in the background, Jawaharlal Nehru University here is caught in yet another crossfire. And this time, it is the tsunami relief work that threatens to overtake debate, as the `joining report' of a senior faculty member -- who accompanied students to affected areas -- was not cleared.

Leading the first JNU team for relief work, Kamal Mitra Chenoy applied for `duty leave' for January 17-19 to travel to the tsunami-affected areas. He returned on January 19, but left yet again on `duty leave' to attend an international seminar. However, when Prof. Chenoy returned, he was in for a rude shock: His `joining report' was not forwarded, as `duty leave' for tsunami relief had been not sanctioned.

"No one got in touch with me. If they needed a clarification, I could have given it. And they are confusing both the leaves. I had sanctioned leave to attend the international seminar. They are not accepting my joining report, stating that it cannot be forwarded till the issue on the first leave is clarified. That is illegal," claimed Prof. Chenoy.

Traditionally, a part of JNU's cultural ethos to lend a helping hand during natural calamities, this initiative to send a team for tsunami relief work was decided during a meeting chaired by the University's Vice-Chancellor, G.K. Chadha, himself. "It was decided in the presence of Prof. Chadha and some financial commitments were also made for the students by the Vice-Chancellor. It was a part of the University's decision for tsunami relief. If there was some problem with `duty leave' then the Vice-Chancellor can sanction what is called `special casual leave'. Why didn't he do that," argued Prof. Chenoy.

Anticipating a similar confusion on his leave application, yet another faculty member, Ajay Patnaik, who led the second team of JNU students, has also forwarded an application to the Vice-Chancellor. "I have asked the administration to classify the period that I was away as `On Duty'. After all, this was part of University work. I went with the students. I however, have written in my application that I do not want to claim TA/DA. It is just that the leave should be classified under that category,'' said Prof. Patnaik.

Meanwhile, the Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers' Association has also forwarded at letter to the Vice-Chancellor, asking him to intervene in the matter.

Acknowledging the confusion, JNU Rector, Balveer Arora, said, "We are considering how to classify this''. Stating that the matter had been brought to his notice, the Vice-Chancellor asserted that there was no controversy. "It is a Departmental matter. I have asked for the report and we will resolve the issue immediately,'' said Prof. Chadha.

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