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Is This The Best Himachal’s Education Minister Can do to Regulate Private Schools, Make Them Obey Govt Orders?

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Suresh bhardwaj

Shimla-On 27th March 2020, Suresh Bhardwaj, the Education Minister of Himachal Pradesh, had asked the private schools to stop compelling parents to deposit fees during the state-wide curfew and lockdown. He asked them to extend the last dates for depositing fees.

He had made this statement after the Director of Higher Education, Himachal Pradesh, Dr Amarjeet Sharma, confirmed that it has come to the notice of the department that some private schools functioning in the state had fixed the last date for submission of school fees as of March 30th, 2020.

But parent continued to and are still receiving receive messages from schools asking them to deposit the fees. Messages sent to parents said the “bill” should be paid by 5th May 2020. This bill amounts to over Rs 26,000 for three months.

In addition to tuition fee, the bill included annual charges, fees for computer, skating, music, Taekwando, Dance, smart class, and miscellaneous charges.

The Student-Parent forum today wrote a letter to the Education Minister in which it said that on April 24, one of these schools sent messages to parents to pay the “bill” for March, April, and May months online. Earlier, in March, with a fee hike of eight percent, the school had sent a message for paying Rs. 19,000, the forum said. Now, the new message received on April 24 said that parents will have to pay about 26,000. This fee hike of 15 percent in addition to the previous hike of eight percent during such a crisis has bewildered the parents, the forum said.

Moreover, the forum expressed shock over the fact that these schools are also billing parents for activities/facilities skating, music, Taekwando, Dance, smart class etc. The schools are closed for a month now so some charges should not apply for this period. 

The forum said that private schools have already made a hike of eight to twenty percent in their “bills”. Parents of about 70 percent children enrolled in Himachal’s 2712 private schools are employed as outsource workers, labourers, small-scale shopkeepers, taxi drivers, small businesses, hotel operators etc., the forum said.

Due to the lockdown, sources of income of these parents are badly hit. Paying hefty fees of schools during the lockdown has become a reason for distress for the parents, the forum said. No reason can justify hiking fees during such a time of crisis and compelling parents to pay their “bills” . Even though the government has asked them to extend the lasts dates for paying “school bills”, these schools are sending desperate messages.

If we rewind a little, we find that the Education Directorate has directed private schools as many as three times to not make any fee hikes without fulfilling certain conditions. First notification in this regard was issued on December 5, second on January 18, and third on March 12.

As per the forum, the schools were directed to not take decision on fee hike without conducting a general house. But the schools made fee hikes of upto 20 percent by defying this order. The Department did not take any action as always.  The Directorate had also ordered these schools to adjust excess fee charged during the last year in the bills of current year. Nothing was adjusted, the forum said.

The forum has raised question over the insensitivity of these schools which are indifferent to COVID-19 crisis and lockdown and financial problems majority of parents are facing currently. In its letter, the Student-Parent forum requested the Education Minister to intervene and implement the notifications issued by the Education Directorate.

By Saturday evening, what Education Minister could do is tell the parents that there is nothing that he could do about the messages being sent to parents to pay the “bills” but he could only save them from paying a penalty for delayed payment of fees.

The Disaster Management Act and Epidemic Act is in force, but the State Government doesn’t seem to be capable of giving even a slap on the wrist of such private schools. The question is; Is this the best that the Education Minister can do to regulate and tighten the noose around private schools blatantly defying its orders?

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Rs.18 Crore Mandi Shiv Dham Project Tender Allotted for Rs. 36 Crores, Alleges Sudhir Sharma  

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Mandi Shiv Dham Project Tender

Shimla-Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Jairam Thakur, and Mandi Shivdham project, which he claims to be his dream project, has landed in controversy ahead of the polling for the by-polls scheduled to be held on October 30.

AICC secretary and former minister, Sudhir Sharma, on Saturday released a statement in which he alleged HP Tourism Development Corporation of indulging in corruption in allotment of tender for the Mandi Shivdham development project. He alleged that against the sanctioned limit of Rs. 18 crores, the tender for the development of the first phase of the project was granted to a Mumbai-based company “Generic Engineering Construction & Projects Limited” in February this year.

The project involves structural construction of replicas of 12 Jyotirlings, site development etc., as per the tender.

He also said that the Chief Minister himself holds charge of the Tourism Department.

Sudhir also furnished some documents related to the tender allocation to support his allegations.

He further informed that the tenders were first invited for the first phase between November 24 and 25, 2020. At that time, the estimated cost was mentioned to be Rs. 18 crores. Four companies responded to the invitation and participated in the tendering process. However, by February this year, the tender was allotted to the above-mentioned company for Rs. 36 crores.

Sudhir questioned the state government over doubling the cost and asked the Chief Minister to provide the public with an explanation for this.

“This money belongs to the State and it should be spent on public welfare,” Sudhir said in a statement released on Saturday.

He also demanded action against those involved in this alleged act of corruption.

Sudhir further alleged that instead of taking care and undertaking beautification of already existing temples and religious places in Mandi – also known as Choti Kashi- Chief Minister jumped to a new location with his dream project. He also alleged that the government didn’t even obtain forest clearance for this project and several trees were axed.

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Kinnaur: Horrific Tragedy Unfolds as Bodies of 7 Out of 11 Missing Trekkers Recovered, Two Still Missing

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Kinnaur-A horrific tragedy is unfolding as bodies of seven trekkers, who had gone missing while trekking from Uttarkashi to Chitkul, were recovered by the teams of Army and ITPB from Lamkhaga Pass in Kinnaur district. Two of them have been rescued alive and were receiving medical treatment. Two trekkers are still missing and feared to be dead.

Most of these persons belonged to West Bengal. 

The rescue team could not lift the bodies due to the bad weather on Thursday as it had to suspend the search and rescue operation. The operation was resumed on Friday. The search operation for the remaining missing persons would be carried out on Saturday. The search and rescue teams found the bodies at an altitude of 5,000 metres.

According to the available information, a total of 17 persons – 11 trekkers and six porters- had left Uttarkashi on October 11 on a trekking expedition that was supposed to conclude in Chikul of Kinnaur district on October 19. However, the weather took a drastic turn and the region witnessed heavy snowfall on October 17 and 18.

While six Nepalese porters were said to have reached Chitkul, the trekkers had decided to stay in temporary tents at Lamkhaga Pass. The porters had informed the police about the stranded trekkers on reaching Chitkul on October 20.

The Deputy Commissioner, Kinnaur, Abid Hussain, confirmed that nine of these trekkers have been found. While two were alive, seven had died. The exact reason for deaths would be ascertained only after the post-mortem. Two trekkers still remain missing. More information is awaited.

It’s pertinent to mention that the Meteorological Department had issued warning of heavy rain and snow on October 18 alonwith an orange alert. 

Following are the details of the bodies recovered and persons rescued alive:

Deceased Persons

  1. Anita Rawat (38) D/o Sh. Jyoti Singh R/o M 95 Harinagar, West Bengal
  2. Tanmay Tiwari (30), S/o Sh R.C. Tiwari, R/o Kishan Nagar, Kolkata 3
  3. Vikas Makal(33) son of Swapan Maikal, Raghabpur Nepalganj, South 24 Parganas, West Bengal
  4. Saurabh Gosh (34) S/o Sushil Ghosh, R/o Nepalganj, South 24 West Bengal
  5. Subhayan Das (28) S/o Kajal Das, R/o 10/1A Nepal Bhatacharia G Streak Kalighat, West Bengal
  6. Richard Mandal (31) From West Bengal
  7. Upender (22) from Uttarkashi

Detail of Missing persons:

  1. Sukenh Manjhi(43) From West Bengal
  2. Gyan Chand (33) from Uttarkashi

Details of Injured Person

  1. Devendra Chauhan, S/o Hariram, R/o Village Gangad, Thana Mary, Uttarkashi. (company guide)
  2. Mithun Dari, S/o Swar Badal Ch Dari, R/o Prasadpur, PostAndhar Manik, South 24 Pargans, West Bengal

 

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HP By-Polls 2021: Silence Period Extended to Three Days

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hp by polls 2021 silence period

Shimla-The campaigning period during Himachal Pradesh by-elections has been fixed from 10 am to 7 pm every day. The silence period has been extended from two days to three days before the closing date of voting, which will start after 6 pm on 27th October 2021.

During the no active campaigning by the candidates or political parties is allowed, and television or any digital media cannot carry any election-related matter.

This information was released by Chief Electoral Officer, Himachal Pradesh, C. Paulrasu. He said that the Election Commission of India has limited the period of campaigning during by-election 2021 in view of the guidelines issued for the prevention of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He has urged all the candidates and political parties participating in the by-elections of Mandi Parliamentary Constituency and Fatehpur, Jubbal-Kotkhai and Arki Assembly Constituencies to comply with these guidelines related to the election campaign.

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