As private schools continue to charge heavy fees in Himachal Pradesh despite the fact that all schools have remained closed since late March amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the Student Parents Forum on Sunday urged the Jai Ram Thakur-led state government to bring in a legislation in the ongoing monsoon session of the state Assembly to check this practice. The Student Parents Forum’s convenor Vijender Mehra said they would intensify their agitation on “arbitrary hike in fees by private schools“ if their demands are not met. “The state government should bring in a law in the ongoing Assembly session to regulate tuition fees, annual charges, admission fees, computer fees, smart classroom charges and other charges as private schools impose arbitrary hike each year,” he said. Mehra said despite various orders and directions issued by the state government to the private schools, these schools remained “unfazed” and “what is more surprising is that no action was taken against them for flouting government directions“. He alleged that the HP education department had submitted a proposal to the state government to “stop the loot” but it was being “deliberately delayed” and not laid on the floor of the House. “If the state government is really serious about six lakh students and their parents, they should bring the resolution in the ongoing Assembly session and enact a law to regulate private schools in the state,” Mehra said. He said there was no provision for functioning of schools except the old rules passed in 1997 and 2003 and there was thus the need to bring a new law in this regard in accordance with the prevailing situation. He also demanded that a regulatory commission and a state advisory council should be constituted on the lines of such bodies for higher education to regulate the functioning of private schools in HP. “The private schools have charged huge fees from parents despite the state government order of charging only tuition fees during the Corona crisis. Further, the private schools aren’t incorporating overcharged fees in the next instalments and neither refunding the increased fees to parents. It is despite the fact that the state Cabinet had ordered the private schools to only charge tuition fees that were imposed in 2019 but these schools aren’t following these orders and have charged heavy tuition fees from students,” Mehra charged. He also pressed for waiving fees of play school students as they had not attended schools during the pandemic. Mehra said that the Student Parents Forum will hold protests if the state government fails to take action against private schools for charging arbitrary fees or for not refunding or adjusting fees that were charged from parents during the pandemic period.