TIFR pays up after cash woes go viral

TIFR pays up after cash woes go viral

Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai

One of India’s most prestigious research institutes, Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) endured embarrassing moments on Thursday after news surfaced that the institute had paid its scientists, research scholars and administrative staffs only 50% of their February salary due to paucity of funds.

But when the news went viral, the government undertook a fire-fighting exercise and deposited the remaining the money to the TIFR staffers’ bank accounts by evening. Sources attributed the crisis to a technical glitch in the accounting system.

On Wednesday, TIFR staffers were in for a shock when they realised that only half of their salary had been credited to their banks.

“It was a surprise for me. It (salary cut) never happened to me in my last 9 years of work at TIFR. This time, salary also came a day a late,” a TIFR scientist told DH.

A notice put out by the TIFR Registrar Wg Cdr George Antony (rtd) on March 6 said, “Due to insufficient funds, all staff members and students/post doctoral fellows of the TIFR in Centres and Field Stations will be paid 50% of the net salary for the month of February immediately. Remaining part of the salary will be paid when sufficient funds are available.”

“All deductions will be calculated on full salary and will be deposited to respective authorities as per rules,” it added.

The news of fund shortage in India’s premiere science institute spread like wildfire, compelling the government to take action within 24 hours.

“The complete salary of all the employees of TIFR has been credited to their respective bank accounts. The issue has been solved now,” Antony told news agency PTI.

TIFR was set up in 1955-56 through a tripartite agreement between the central government, then Bombay State and Sir Dorabji Tata Trust. The agreement envisaged extensive financial support from the central government. 

Besides its main campus in south Mumbai, TIFR has six other centres, three of which are in Bengaluru.

More than 99% of the expenditure of the institute is borne by the Centre. The institute comes under the DAE through which all grants are channelled.

TIFR fund crunch is the second example of a government agency failing to meet its pay and allowance obligations in the fourth quarter of the current fiscal due to paucity of funds.

Last month, the Principal Controller of Defence Accounts, Pune, under the Ministry of Defence put out a note said on its website saying due to insufficient funds, it was not in a position to pay for the transportation allowances of the officers.

A Defence Ministry official later clarified that the shortfall was temporary and resolved routinely through re-appropriation of funds. The note was subsequently withdrawn.