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Drop mid-year JNU fee hike, find other source of funds: MHRD panel

The ministry formed the committee after protests by students against a hostel fee hike. It had former UGC chairperson V S Chauhan, AICTE chairperson Anil Sahasrabudhe and UGC secretary Rajnish Jain as members.

Written by Aranya Shankar | New Delhi |
Updated: December 23, 2019 7:53:18 pm
JNU protests, JNU fee hike, HRD Ministry, Jawaharlal Nehru University, JNU hostel fee hike, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Rajya Sabha A protest over the hostel fee hike in JNU.  (Express File Photo: Gajendra Yadav)

The three-member panel formed by the HRD Ministry to “recommend ways to restore normal functioning” of Jawaharlal Nehru University told the ministry that there should be “no alteration of fees during the middle of the academic session” and that alternate sources of funding should be explored. The recommendations were made in a report submitted on November 24.

The ministry formed the committee after widespread protests by the student community against a hostel fee hike. It had former UGC chairperson V S Chauhan, AICTE chairperson Anil Sahasrabudhe and UGC secretary Rajnish Jain as members.

As per the initial hostel fee hike, service charges for maintenance, mess workers, cook and sanitation, and utility charges for power and water consumption were introduced for the first time. Rent for a single room was increased from Rs 20 per month to Rs 600 per month, and for a double-sharing room from Rs 10 per month to Rs 300 per month.

After several days of protests inside and outside the university campus — on two occasions students were lathi-charged by the police for breaking barricades and attempting to march to the Parliament and President House — a high-level committee set up by the university decided to give 50% concession to all students and 75% concession to Below Poverty Line (BPL) students. The recommendations of the three-member committee have not been taken into consideration yet.

Other recommendations state that any change in the hostel manual should be done only after proper discussion with all members, and that the fee revision should be put off till the next academic session.

JNU students say they were not part of the discussions to raise hostel fee. Referring to the service charge component, which is earmarked for salaries of mess workers and other staff, the committee recommended: “The manner of dealing with the salaries of university’s hostel staff should be a policy decision that needs to be taken by MHRD/UGC.”

The committee had also recommended that MHRD or UGC provide funds to meet the shortfall “due to which the JNU administration had to resort to the revision of hostel fee”. UGC agreed to release a grant of Rs 6.41 crore to help the institution, three days after the report was submitted.

The committee had met members of the administration, students and teachers before they made the recommendations.

JNU V-C M Jagadesh Kumar did not respond to calls or texts on the issue.

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