Heading for Greener Pastures

Heading for Greener Pastures

Feb 15, 2016 | Sanchari Dan Abhishek Panda

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On a breezy spring morning of February, MM caught up with the Chief Warden, Prof R.K. Patel, to seek redressal of some issues, new and old.

MM: Boarders in all halls are complaining about a dearth of utensils in the mess. Are new utensils being procured to do away with this scarcity?

CW: We were given a list of the type and number of utensils required last week and normal procedure will be followed to procure the same and make them available to the respective halls. But the requested numbers weren’t large enough to indicate any paucity. In SD hall, however, there are 400 extra boarders for a few days due to the Inter NIT sports meet, and there might be some problems regarding utensils and dining seats. I’m quite sure that there is no major shortage of serving utensils in any other hall. Having said that, I would like to add that if at any moment the warden requests for utensils, they will be procured as per requirement. If students feel the need for more serving utensils, they should contact their respective wardens about it, the warden will verify the matter and prepare a list of required items. The major shortage occurs in case of tea vessels or spoons. It is rare in case of dining trays and tiffin plates. In any case, the aforementioned process is to be followed to ensure the proper availability of utensils.

MM: What about the separate mess for foreign students?

CW: The proposal was made for the 400 odd foreign students in the institute. The finalisation will be done in the next couple of days. We need a suitable caterer who can cater to the needs of the extra students along with the students of their hall and that is the only unresolved issue in the matter.

MM: There is an apparent shortage of mess staff in SD hall of Residence due to which service seems to be lacking.

CW: The number of boarders in SD hall is around 660. As per the hall management guidelines, for every 100 students there should be 5 hall staff members. In this case, it should therefore be 35 in total. From my recent visit to the hall last week and from the information that I hold, the total hall staff for SD hall is currently around 45 including cleaning personnel (brown uniform) and kitchen staff (blue uniform). So, there is no need to worry and I ensure that the number is a good one.

MM: Although the widespread food poisoning cases were reported from VS, other halls too had a good number of such cases being reported. What actions were taken regarding this?

CW: Cooked food has a lesser chance of carrying contaminants of such proportions. Another possibility is the drinking water being contaminated. A committee has been put up regarding the sanitary procedures being followed in the mess and for drinking water purposes. The aquaguards and water coolers in all halls are numbered and date-charts of maintenance and cleaning are put up for each of them. Any complaints regarding the water quality of a specific Aquaguard or cooler, or regarding irregular maintenance can be reported at the warden’s office. Also, students have to be careful about outside food and water, if it’s in a restaurant it is more or less safe, but roadside eateries outside the campus might not provide purified water and in that case students need to be careful.

MM: Are all the night canteen rates regulated by the HMC? Night canteens in halls like VS and HB are apparently changing the rates based on their whims. Also, SD has a whiteboard where they manually write their own rates.

CW: All night canteens are supposed to follow the centrally prepared rate card. If the printed rate cards have been destroyed for some reason, any hall representative can report it and get a new one. Even if the market price of some commodity has increased, the canteen vendors cannot change the prices unless it has been approved by the HMC.

I wish to convey this message to the students that they should not pay a penny more than the price which has been fixed in the rate card by the HMC.

If any vendor feels the need to regulate the prices, he or she should approach the HMC, propose the regulation and if deemed apt by the HMC, the proposal will be approved and a circular will be sent to all boarders to make them aware of this change in prices. There are night canteens which provide personalised food preparations based on students’ demand. In that case, the prices may be tweaked to suit the personalisation. But any item ordered from the menu card directly must be charged at the right price. 

MM: What measures are being taken to make sure that the laundry system rates are being regulated as per the circulated webmail?

CW: We have kept the rates fairly low to ensure that students don’t feel the need to wash their own clothes in their halls. In spite of this, not many students are using the central laundry facility. Personally, I feel the reason behind this is the somewhat difficult transition from old habits to new and improved systems. As of yet, most of the students are more comfortable with washing their clothes themselves than getting them washed at the central laundry. Washing clothes manually not only leads to unnecessary consumption of water but also hanging clothes in the hall corridors destroys the aesthetic beauty of the halls. Also, there are complaints of theft of clothes from the corridors. So, I would suggest students to use the laundry facility as best as they can. As far as my knowledge goes, the washer men are charging students as per the rates previously specified in the webmail. If any student has any grievance regarding the washer men charging more, they need to report it to the authorities so that suitable actions can be taken.

MM: What is being done to eradicate the rat menace in VS hall?

CW: To ward off rats, measures have been taken in the mess area of VS hall. The entry point for the rats has been closed. Rat kills have been procured. Rats thrive in dark and dingy corners, measures are being taken to clean up such corners and avoid any sort of garbage accumulation anywhere. Sprinkling of pesticides in and around the halls has led to the eradication of the insect problems which used to be a rampant issue a few months back. If a regular process is followed for the killing of rats, this menace too will be resolved in some time.

MM: Is it possible to provide cycle compressors for all halls of residence?

CW: Cycle compressors are available in CVR, GDB, MV and VS Halls of Residence. These can be easily procured, the cost isn’t much but these require rigorous maintenance. The general secretary of the hostels needs to talk to the warden if such a need is felt, and I will surely approve of it. The VS and CVR halls used their Hall maintenance funds to get the compressors.

MM: What is the future of central gym now that the private gym is being formalised?

CW: As soon as the request for a private gym was raised, a committee was formed comprising of all the Sports and General Secretaries, and other relevant post holders to have a marathon discussion regarding the central gym. The gym will have a trainer and a list of equipment will be provided, and since this is a private venture, the students will have to pay around INR 500 per month to avail the gym facilities. Also, there will be a schedule. This is an experiment, whether it will be a success or not depends on students’ response. The man behind this proposed gymnasium is a professional. Students wanting to enrol themselves into a professional fitness regimen can do so, and those wanting to use it casually can do it for free in their respective hall gymnasiums or the one beside the swimming pool.

MM: What is the procedure for the room allotment for the next semester?

CW: From our side, we have already started the procedure of listing outgoing boarders in each hall of residence. In mid-April, a circular would be generated stating that students give their choice of halls in groups of six. The allotments are done bearing in mind that homogeneity is maintained among various batches and each hall should contain at least 10-15 students from each branch. To maintain these criteria, some students in these groups might get different allotments, but those cases are rare.

MM: Kindly clarify on the policies for parents visiting their wards’ rooms.

CW: The rules applicable are the same for both ladies’ and boys’ hostels.

Parents can visit their wards at any time of the day, and can go up to their rooms and stay for as long as they want, only they need to intimate the security guards of their arrival.

Only they are not allowed to stay overnight, no matter what the reason is. If the student is sick, he/ she needs to be shifted to a suitable place outside the hall.

Chief Warden's Column

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