‘Sholay style’: Uttarakhand councillor climbs overhead tank, demands waiver of school fee amid pandemic
A councillor in Uttarakhand’s Haldwani, who had been protesting for over 40 days demanding a complete waiver of school fee during the pandemic, climbed an overhead tank on Tuesday while intensifying his protest.
The councillor climbed an overhead tank at Jal Sansthan in Haldwani, Nainital district. When the news spread, local MLA and Uttarakhand leader of the Opposition Indira Hridayesh reached the spot, urging the councillor to climb down.
After he was assured by Hridayesh that the matter will be raised with the state government, the councillor climbed down but was stung by a swarm of bees.
Rohit Kumar, the protesting councillor said, “We have been protesting for over a month now and no one from the state government has come to speak to us. Today, I climbed the overhead tank, risking my life demanding a complete waiver of fee collected by schools during the lockdown period, we did not hear anything from the government.”
“The leader of Opposition has assured me that she will raise the issue in the upcoming assembly session, which is why we are temporarily cancelling the protest but will continue again if the government takes no action,” added Kumar.
Speaking on the protest, Savin Bansal, district magistrate, Nainital, said, “As per the state government’s norms, only tuition fee is to be charged by schools. This is no policy decision to waive off fee. It is difficult to do something like this as the private schools also need some money to function.”
Meanwhile, investigating the matter of extra fee being collected by some private schools following complaints from parents, the Nainital district education department has sent notices to twelve of forty schools that were being probed in the matter.
“We have now sent notices to these schools after listening to the complaints lodged by parents with the district administration. The schools have been asked to inform why they have charged extra fee apart from the collection of only tuition fee as per the norms of the state government. After the schools give us a reply, we will accordingly decide whether the schools should be penalised or stricter action should be taken,” added Bansal.
On June 23, the state government had ordered that private schools imparting education through online classes or other communication modes during the lockdown period will be allowed to charge only the tuition fee. The schools cannot charge any other fee from parents.
“However, if a school is teaching extra subjects through online mode of teaching, then a fee for such courses, based on a previously set fee, can be charged above the tuition fee,” the order stated.
The order further stated, “If certain parents despite taking the benefit of online education are not able to pay the fee then they shall write to the school principal or the school’s managing committee, explaining why they are unable to pay the fee and seek extension for paying the fee. In such a situation, the school management will allow the parent to pay the fee in the extended time period, but in any condition whatsoever, the student will not be removed from the school.”
(With inputs from Ankur Sharma in Haldwani)