Here's what the director says | (Pic: EdexLive + Wikipedia)
Here's what the director says | (Pic: EdexLive + Wikipedia)

"I am a victim of political propaganda": NITHM Director refutes allegations against him  

NITHM, Hyderabad has been blanketed under an air of doubt and unrest as the employees allege no payment of salary and poor administrative management by the Director, Prof S Chinnam Reddy

"The staff at the National Institute of Tourism and Hospitality Management (NITHM) Hyderabad are serving a greater political propaganda against me, especially now with the change in the government, they want me out too," commented Director of NITHM, Dr S Chinnam Reddy.

The above statement was a response to the recent round of allegations by claimants, who say that the university is undergoing an unrestrained crisis that is mounting with every passing day. A professor of the university contends that the staff has not been paid their salary for this month on time, making the holidays a tad bit gloomy.

"Although the salaries were not paid till now, we are expecting them to be credited by Friday, January 5, or Saturday, January 6. Until then, we have to eagerly hope for it to happen," the professor, on the condition of anonymity, says. (Update: While the contractual employees of the University received their salary on Thursday, January 4, other ad-hoc and outsourced employees still await them)

What do the director and the employees say?
The NITHM director, when questioned by EdexLive regarding the situation, answered that the payment of salaries has only been delayed for three days, and will be paid by today, January 4. He adds to his statement that the report of the non-payment of the salaries was submitted on the third of this month and the administration has already acted upon it.

Professor Reddy joined NITHM as the director in the year 2016, but his appointment had been riddled with certain complexities. According to a document released by the Office of the Accountant General (Audit) of Telangana, Hyderabad, that conducted an internal inquiry from August 24, 2023, to September 22, 2023, it was observed that Dr Reddy has been drawing special allowances with the approval of the Chief Minister.

The report reads, "A part of special allowance was subsumed into the emolument and the remaining amount of Rs 49,747 per month was paid as Special Allowance and total amount paid towards Special Allowance till August 2023 was worked out to Rs 44,96,483. The justification for payment of the same was not on record."

Not only this, the notice also states that the director has been continuing for more than seven years, and as per the directions of the Ministry of Education (MoE), Government of India, the tenure is fixed for five years, which can be extended in the public interest for a maximum period of six months only.

Reddy, while denying any such extended favours, told EdexLive that he has been an established academician working for the Gujarat Technical University for seven years and a management professional for the past 24 years, and alleges that the payment is per the 7th Pay Commission, keeping in consideration his collective expertise in the field of management. "With a total of 32 years of academic experience and as a professional, the salary that has been fixed is in accordance with the 7th Pay Commission. If there are any discrepancies regarding the issue, it will be duly responded to," said the director.

Lack of efficiency in administrative matters
But the allegations are not only limited to undue advantages being drawn by the director but towards his sheer lack of responsibility in efficiently handling the administrative work. The audit report states that there has been unauthorised construction of an additional block in buffer zones leading to a loss of almost Rs 4 crore and there have been other instances where building space was leased without the approval of the governing council.

Not only this, there have been various cases where the institution failed to collect reimbursements from government bodies such as the instance of the non-recovery of an amount of Rupees 25.77 lakh under the Chief Minister Schedule Tribes Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CMSTEI) scheme from the Tribal Cooperative Finance Corporation Limited (TRICOR)

However, the NITHM Director dismissed this by saying that most of the projects are on a contractual basis and are outsourced to other parties. The administrative decisions are also taken by the board and are not done single-handedly by Prof Reddy. "I am there to implement the Board's actions, even the construction of the buildings is tendered by the Telangana State Tourism Development Corporation (TSDTC) and not by NITHM," he rebutted.

"Director turned dictator"
The staff at the NITHM held a demonstration against the removal of the director on Thursday, January 4. Preserve NITHM's Honor: Remove Chinnam ReddyChinnam Reddy Out: Time for a positive change read the placards held by the agitating staff and academicians of the college. The professor of the university says that the staff members are worried about the advancements at the institution and do not want him to serve as the director of the institution.

"Are we going to be the victims and resume working under a director-turned-dictator?" questions the professor, who has been employed at the university for the past seven years. The professor also alleges that women employees are disrespected and ridiculed, even verbally abused and threatened in foul language.

Not only this, the professor adds that there was no celebration of Women's Day and Teacher's Day and only a few particular festivals are celebrated. Not only this, the atmosphere at the university has turned "unhealthy", with the standards of a government institution gradually diminishing with fewer and fewer students enrolling themselves at the university due to a lack of a transparent admission process.

"There are court cases against the director, yet he has been employed as a director in the institution," says the professor. Furthermore, the audit report states that originally, Dr Reddy was rejected by the selection committee as he failed to fulfill the criteria mentioned, yet he was appointed as the director as his application was sent to the then Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao directly. "The selection committee upon interviewing and perusing the qualifications/experience of the aspirants observed (27.1.2016) that the candidate does not possess qualifications/experience relevant to the Tourism & Hospitality and lacks adequate subject knowledge, job clarity..." read the report.

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