Repeated warnings have failed to rein in Punjab government school teachers who have been on leave for years.
According to a state government estimate, more than 1,200 teachers in Punjab have taken long leaves and settled down in foreign countries, including Canada, UK and US, said the Daily Mail.
These teachers, education department officials said, have not even responded to notices served on them.
A source in the education department, quoted by the paper said hundreds of school teachers who had gone on leave during the last two years have not come back and reported to their respective schools so far.
"These teachers will never join the work in near future. They have settled down in foreign countries. The state already has more than 27,000 vacancies of teachers in various grades," sources said.
The education department sources said hundreds of government school teachers, who have been absent for years and proceeded on "foreign tours", may lose their jobs.
The department is taking stock of the situation and is planning to take stern action against these teachers.
An education department official said regular teachers, who get a hefty salary package, are also eligible for "leave without pay" for up to six months.
They are entitled to extend their leaves citing various reasons, including poor health.
The official explained: "Some of the teachers join the schools a couple of days before the summer or winter vacations and then again leave for foreign countries… these teachers do not tender their resignation. By doing this, they can avail pension and other benefits a government employee is entitled to."
"The post of a teacher, who is on a leave, cannot be declared as vacant till he or she is dismissed from the service."
The trend has hit the student-teacher ratio in the state. Several schools have a teacher-student ratio of 1:70 or even 1:90. In as many as 2,017 primary and 441 upper primary schools, only a single teacher conducts the classes.
The government, sources said, has asked district-level education department officials to take stock of the situation and come up with a list of teachers who are on "foreign tours".
A senior education department official confirmed that the list of teachers, who have been absent for years and are reportedly holidaying in foreign countries, is being prepared by the education department.
"The list will be submitted before the state government for an action," he said.