Srinagar, June 26: The Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) has asked all the private educational schools falling within its jurisdiction to clear sanitation fees for the year 2021-22.
The move however has been opposed by the schools saying that they are allowed to charge only tuition from the students for the closure and cannot pay the sanitation fee to the SMC during the closure period.
Notably, the SMC has issued a notification at a time when all the educational institutions are closed for physical class work for last more than one year and schools have no other student activities as well.
“Sanitation fee is charged when schools remain open and use the sanitation facilities. The amount is paid by the students for using the sanitation facilities which are regularly cleaned by SMC sanitation workers,” a school functionary at a city school said.
On one hand the government imposed a ban on collecting any other fee than tuition fee from students during the closure period while on other hand SMC is charging the sanitation fee during the closure period, he said.
As already reported by this newspaper, the government has issued repeated instructions to the private schools to charge only tuition fees from the school children for the closure period. The tuition fee is to be charged to pay the salary of the school staff.
The notice has been issued by the concerned ward officers of the SMC to the school falling in their jurisdiction. As per the notice, the schools have been asked to pay sanitation fee, shop tax and Trade tax for the 2021-22 year.
“We are ready to pay the shop and trade tax towards the SMC but we are seeking a rebate for sanitation given the closure of the schools. Ironically, the SMC is not ready to accept trade and shop tax amounts and ask schools to clear the sanitation fee first,” the school functionary said.
The trade and shop tax to be charged by the schools ranges from Rs 5000 to Rs 6000 for the 2021-22 year. However the sanitation fee charged by the SMC is over Rs 45000.
“The authorities at SMC should understand our position and waive off the sanitation fee for the closure period,” the school functionary said.
Chairman Private School Association J&K (PSAJK) G N Var opposed the move saying that the schools are already running in losses due to financial constraints in the prevailing pandemic situation.
“We will approach the government regarding the issue and put forth our demand to get a rebate on sanitation fee. The government itself says that no charges other than tuition fee should be collected from students because schools are closed. But the same government is asking us to pay the school fee for the same period,” Var said.
Var said they had already taken up the matter with district administration Srinagar and were assured to get some relief.
“We also sent our deputation to SMC and we were given verbal only verbal assurances to get some relief but nothing was done on the ground,” he said.
Chief Sanitation Officer SMC, Nazir Ahmad Baba said the shop and trade tax was charged from all the commercial sectors including hoteliers, shopkeepers and schools falling within SMC limits, for revenue generation.
“Shop and trade tax has to be paid by all of them because it gives revenue to the ULB,” he said.
About the sanitation fee, Baba acknowledged that the schools remained closed for the past two years and the school proprietors must be facing difficulties in paying the sanitation fee.
”But SMC is not authorized to waive the sanitation fee. It has to be done by the government. We have given a relief to the schools that they can pay the amount in three installments. That is what we can do,” he said.
He said the charges will be waived off only after they receive any order of notification from the government.