Shimla, September 23: Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh Monday constituted a three-member panel headed by a former high court judge to review the decision of a state-run university to increase fees. "A three-member independent committee under the chairmanship of a retired judge of the high court would be constituted which would submit its report on fee hike and other related matters of the Himachal Pradesh University within a month," an official statement quoted the chief minister as saying.
The decision to set up the committee came following statewide protests by students over the exorbitant hike in tuition and hostel fees for the first time in nearly 44 years. The chief minister assured a delegation of the National Students Union of India (NSUI), which met him here, that the interests of the students would be safeguarded and nobody would be allowed to vitiate the academic atmosphere in the educational institutions.
However, vice chancellor A.D.N. Bajpai justified the fee hike, saying it was the need of the hour. He said the previous vice chancellors also tried to increase it but backtracked later due to pressure mounted by students. Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party legislator from Shimla Suresh Bhardwaj demanded a rollback of the fee hike. "This single decision of the government has threatened to deprive the youth of their basic right of higher education," he said in a statement. "On the one hand the chief minister is spending crores to provide luxury cars to his ministers. On the other, he finds providing affordable education to the poor a wasteful expenditure. This is the reason that different type of fees have been increased from 100 percent to 2,000 percent," he added.