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JNU announces second revision in proposed hostel fee, students demand full rollback

By HT Correspondent
PUBLISHED ON NOV 26, 2019 10:53 PM IST

New Delhi

The Jawaharlal Nehru University announced a latest revision in the hostel charges late Monday night, reducing a component of the fee, following a month-long continued face-off with the students and teachers over the issue. The protesters, however, on Tuesday reiterated their demand that they will not end their stir until the hike was rolled back completely.

Registrar Pramod Kumar said the concessions were made as per the recommendations of a seven-member internal committee set up by the university on Sunday. The panel has recommended a 50% concession in utility and service charges for all students and 75% reduction for those in Below Poverty Line (BPL) category. The changes will be implemented from January 2020.

“The committee scrutinised the estimated utility and service charges in the hostels and recommended that Rs 1,000 per month may be charged instead of the current Rs 2,000 per month. All eligible BPL students would be charged Rs 500 under the category,” he said. “The committee’s report was circulated among the Executive Council members and after getting the necessary approvals, the concessions were finalised.”

However, the three elected EC representatives — Sachidanand Sinha, Moushumi Basu and Baviskar Sharad Pralhad — said on Tuesday they were not consulted in the matter and the claims of approval in EC were “untrue”. In a statement released on Tuesday, the three said, “None of us were ever approached either through email or phone for approval of the high-level committee’s recommendations as claimed.”

The students’ union too rejected the concessions. “The very idea of utility and service charge is outrageous and unacceptable. The amount they suggested is untenable and students will have to drop out if this sustains,” JNUSU said in a statement. On Tuesday, the students have also given the country-wide call to observe National Protest Day and form a human chain at Connaught Place in New Delhi to demand affordable education.

The development came before the committee appointed by the Union ministry of human resource development submitted its recommendations on the same issue on Tuesday. Before submitting their report, the three-member committee, including former UGC chairperson VS Chauhan, AICTE chairperson Anil Sahasrabudhe and UGC secretary Rajnish Jain, held talks with students, teachers, and deans last week.

“We have recommended for a dialogue between all stakeholders in the future, including students. The UGC has also agreed to allocate Rs 6.41 crore as the university said it was dealing with a fund crunch which necessitated the hike,” a panel member said, adding that the committee may have factored in the steep hike of room rent from Rs 10 to Rs 300 while making its recommendations.

The JNU teachers’ association (JNUTA) too called for full withdrawal of the hostel changes. “The hostel charges announced after this second revision nevertheless continue to represent a significant increase of about Rs. 1500 per month over the existing charges,” JNUTA said in a statement.

The association pointed out that the new category of fees—utility and service charges that “reflect a move towards a self-financing model, or a transfer of the university’s responsibilities on to students”—are still present in the structure of hostel charges.

“This is thus leaving open the possibility that the university administration’s goal will be ultimately achieved through subsequent increases in the charges under these heads,” it said.

The JNU administration had earlier announced a 50% concession for those belonging to the BPL category but students rejected the proposal, saying it was an eyewash and demanded complete rollback of the proposed hostel fee hike.

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