In Solapur, students protest for fee waiver, want exams postponed

For the last one week, nearly 30,000 students from the drought-affected talukas of Sangola, Mhada, Malshiras, Barshi and Akkalkot have been agitating and demanding drought relief. With the state government giving out figures of nearly 50 per cent drought in almost all talukas in the district, students have dashed off letters to the vice-chancellor of Solapur University and the state government to help them out by waiving their term fee and postponing the examinations.

"The situation in almost all areas is about the same with hardly any rains last year. The student population has been affected badly. The government should waive term fees and also postpone the exams," said student representative Lahu Gaikwad. The students have been agitating before the district collectorate as well as the university and have threatened to intensify their agitation till their demands are met.

Students from all affected talukas have joined the agitation. With a recent meeting conducted by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar regarding Pune division, including Solapur, issuing drought relief funds, the students said there should be special consideration for their areas too. "Students are unable to pay their fees and we would request the government to either advance or postpone the exams and not schedule the same in March and April," said another student.

"With water being supplied by tankers and some areas getting water only once in two to three days, several areas are finding it difficult to even lead a normal life," said a student.

Vice-Chancellor Dr N N Maldar said he had already written to the Directorate of Higher Education. "We have been directed to ready a list of students. We have asked for online applications on the criteria set by the government and we have received 5,667 applications as of now," he said.

The eligibility criteria exclude students from evening batches, those enjoying scholarships and students whose parents work in city areas. Maldar said they been given three more days to the students to apply before the final list was sent to the government. At present, Solapur University has 126 colleges affiliated to it, with most of them in rural areas. Nearly 82,000 students study in these colleges.

District Collector P N Gedam, who has recently taken over, said he had received the demands of the students and would forward them to the government. "It's a policy decision and it is upto the government to resolve the matter and take appropriate action and give us the necessary directives," he said.

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