A Climacteric View
A month since the inception of the new academic year, freshmen as well as the sophomores seem to be slowly adapting to their new abodes. However various matters of concern still persist in the halls. On a cool evening, MM caught up with Chief Warden, Prof. S.K. Patel to discuss the current state of affairs in the hostels as well chalk out solutions for the maladies present. Here is an excerpt of the interview.
MM: In the previous interview you mentioned that two officials will be doing rounds in the halls, daily, to check the status of cleanliness of the hostels. However, the state of cleanliness in the hostels is still questionable as the cleaning staff do a very poor job. Please comment.
CW: In case of incompetence on behalf of any cleaner or sweeper, a boarder is entitled to approach the environment secretary or the maintenance secretary and report his/her actions. It is the duty of the respective secretaries to further carry forward the complaint to the warden who will take the necessary action against the cleaner/sweeper concerned.
Cleaning personnel are supposed to clean the toilets in two shifts: 7:30-10:30 and 14:00-17:00. The duration is so because of the limited numbers of cleaning personnel. We have a system of biometric attendance ensuring that they work 8 hours a day. Branded disinfectants and cubes are also provided to the cleaning staff to ensure proper cleaning. Soma Oram, is in charge of reviewing the state of hygiene in the hostels and she gives her feedback regarding the same. However, I haven’t received any negative feedback from her so far.
Boarders are equally culpable for keeping the toilets clean. They are supposed to use the flushes regularly and take care of minimum hygiene. In spite of all the measures if a student is unsatisfied with the state of hygiene, he/she can directly approach the warden to give his/her complaints.
MM: Numerous reports have come in from the hostels especially KMS and CVR that the sweepers are demanding money for cleaning the rooms of the boarders, even when they are not cleaning the rooms weekly. What is your take on the issue?
CW: Under no circumstances are the boarders supposed to offer money to sweepers and cleaners for getting their rooms cleaned. If a sweeper is asking for money for cleaning the rooms, it is the duty of the boarder to report the issue to the warden or to me. In cases like these the sweeper can be suspended for a period of two months or his/her appointment can be terminated. The Chief Warden’s office follows a very strict protocol regarding the issue.
|S.No||Hall||Supervisor Name and Contact No|
|01||SSB||Ajay Naik - 9668335652|
|02||MV||Ajay Naik - 9668335652|
|03||GDB||Surendra Palai - 984038596|
|04||DBA||Ajay Pradhan - 8763109854|
|05||MSS||Manoj Nayak - 9861168575|
|06||CVR||Gauri Mahali - 7894510293|
|07||HB||Gagan Naik - 8658603017|
|08||VS||Dasarathi Mahali - 977258556|
|09||SD||Raju Kalet - 9938121673|
|10||KMS||Jitendra Palai - 9438760827|
A webmail can be circulated among the boarders, especially the first year students so as to make them aware of the rules.
MM: VS hostel has witnessed a rapid increase in the activities of rats over the past few months. What steps are being taken to combat their menace?
CW: I have been made aware of the situation. This issue has been taken up and discussed among the officials concerned as well. As of now, we haven’t been able to devise a concrete plan to counter the problem. Nonetheless, we have received numerous suggestions regarding the problem and we are currently contemplating upon the feasibility of the ideas we received. We can definitely hope that a solution for the issue presents itself in a few days.
MM: What steps are being taken to counter the nuisance caused by dogs in the hostel area?
CW: A few days after I was made privy to this problem, I along with Prof. Jugal Mohapatra (Warden, VS Hall of Residence) and Rajesh Behuria visited the Municipal Corporation to discuss the issue. They informed us that the process of capturing dogs has been brought to a temporary halt. They are currently coordinating with the local veterinary hospital regarding this problem. We visited the veterinary hospital where we were informed that a special project called ABC (Animal Birth Control) has been proposed. However, the project hasn’t been initiated due to some financial problems and will hopefully commence after a period of two to three months. After that, the project heads will visit the campus and decisions regarding any further steps will be taken. Till then precautionary measures like wire grilling the small entrances to the halls will be followed. Currently the gates leading to the hostels from the cycle parking area for DBA and MSS will be wire grilled so as to prevent the entry of dogs. We are also contemplating an automatic door closing system, and plan to implement it after gauging its feasibility. My advice to the students is that they should keep the gates closed after they use them.
We also plan to have interactive sessions with the students regarding the issue in the presence of the nodal officer of the ABC project so to give them some idea about how they can have a safe interaction with the dogs. I would also advice the students not to feed the dogs.
MM: What are the reasons for the frequent power cuts in the campus despite the provision of a dedicated 33 KV power line for the campus?
CW: The recent 6-hour power outage (14th August 2016) in the campus was due to a major failure in the institute substation caused by malfunctioning power cables. So an entire batch of cable lines had to be replaced which was the reason for the prolonged power failure. Erratic power outages can also be attributed to the occasional disruptive service from the grid at Chhend.
MM: There has been a persistent request from the boarders in VS, MSS, SD, MV to provide the facility of another LAN port in their rooms as these rooms have a double occupancy. Despite repeated assurances over the last year no steps have been taken regarding the issue. What are your plans regarding the issue?
CW: I must be thankful to MM for bringing this issue to my notice as I was unaware of the same. I will definitely enquire with the competent authority regarding the issue and certainly efforts will be made to improve it.
MM: The UPS powering the LAN hubs isn’t functional in hostels like MSS, HB and is not even present in hostels like MV. In case of a power failure the LAN connection is interrupted causing inconvenience to the boarders. What steps are being taken in this regard?
CW: This I think is a decision which rests in the hands of the HEC (Hall Executive Council). The HEC can decide their priorities regarding this issue and any request regarding the same will be entertained by the Chief Warden’s Office. MSS hall has already brought up this matter and I have approved funds for the same.
MM: When can we expect a cycle stand for SD hall?
CW: The pace of construction in SD hall has slowed down. We do realise the necessity of a cycle stand in SD hall. I will make necessary enquiries with the Dean, Planning and Development and the construction of a cycle parking will be initiated soon enough.
MM: What is your opinion regarding the proposal of new cycle stand in V. S. Hall?
CW: Last year, in the month of March, our ex-Director, Mr. Sunil Kumar Sarangi, visited V. S. Hall of residence during an annual function. When the students complained about the current cycle stand being too far away for students residing in E, F, G, H blocks due to its location, Sarangi Sir had questioned the students about the reduction in distance if a new cycle stand was constructed. The rough estimate that the students gave was about 100m. Since that was not a very significant difference, Sarangi Sir had clearly stated that there wouldn’t be the construction of any new cycle stand. Moreover, it’s a pretty big cycle stand which can accommodate all the cycles of 1,400 boarders. So, as of now, there are no plans of constructing a new cycle stand in V. S. Hall.
MM: Most of the bathroom doors in H.B. hall are broken. The geysers and the exhaust fans are missing and so are the shower heads. What steps have been taken to step up the repair work in the hall?
CW: Actually, in H. B. Hall, all the geysers are not working right now. Although there are many geysers, we have purposefully removed the heating coils of some of them as not all the borders will be using them throughout the year. Geysers are in demand during winter but students use them perennially. Hence, we made sure that at least one geyser per floor is working properly and around 6 of them were repaired for this reason. Of course, before the winter starts, all the geysers will be repaired and will be functioning properly.
Also, there is a functional central geyser in B- block of the hall. Last year, the coils were stolen. Hence we decided to fix them only during winter and as soon as the winter ends, we are going to dismantle them and keep the coils with us. Coming to the others problems like broken doors and exhaust fans, it is the duty of maintenance secretary to look into all these and give us a report. Since this issue hasn’t come into our notice till now, we didn’t take any action but we will look into it as soon as we receive reports and soon repairs will be made.
MM: What exactly is the purpose of Discipline Outside Hall Committee?
CW: If any act of indiscipline or immorality takes place outside the halls but anywhere inside the area of jurisdiction of HMC, but not pertaining to any particular HEC, this committee comes into the picture. As the name suggests, it is the responsibility of Discipline Outside Hall Committee to look into such issues or incidents. In event of any such discrepancy, the issue must be brought to my notice first. Depending upon the severity, the matter will be forwarded to the higher authorities like ISDC. These issues are usually taken care by respective HEC.
MM: Is there any progress in installation of Wi-Fi in V. S. Hall as proposed by NITRAA?
CW: This year, some alumni belonging to 1972 batch, wanted to contribute something for the institute from their part on the occasion of their golden jubilee and since I am also a part of the association, I suggested to install Wi-Fi in V. S. Hall of residence, unaware of the fact that with the provision for a wired connection Wi-Fi is not really necessary. So, I think there is no necessity of installing Wi-Fi hubs where direct LAN connections are being provided to the boarders.
MM: In early January, there was a meeting among foreign students, the institute representatives and the Odisha representatives of ICCR, where the foreign students requested the HMC to allow them exemption from the current mess system as they needed non-spicy food and put forth a proposal for the construction of a separate mess. The HMC had rejected the idea citing issues like space constraints and expensive food as reasons. So how exactly are we dealing with the situation right now?
CW: A webmail was sent to all the foreign students who had come through DASA as well as ICCR scheme regarding a new mess for them. An experimental mess was set up for a day or so but the turnout was quite low, tying our hands to continue working upon it. If there were at least 100 students who demanded for the same, there would surely be a mess set up for them. Factors like limited space, lack of labour and a paltry number of students made us wind up this issue soon. Moreover, we got a report that the foreign students are satisfied with the normal mess food. Hence, this issue wasn’t taken further into consideration. Also, precautions like not making the food too spicy or oily were taken.
MM: What do you think is necessary for a boarder’s room, a wire mesh or a curtain? How will you prioritize the requirement?
CW: Regarding this issue, we have come to a conclusion that curtains in every room should be put up to block the heat. In the case of wire mesh, students will still paste newspapers on the windows. Wire mesh does not help much in terms of privacy. Curtains are already put up in halls like CVR, KMS, GDB and MV. It will take almost a year to complete this project. So, by the end of this academic session, curtains will be put up in every hall. To reduce the instances of insect bites, we should clean our surroundings. Regular spraying of pesticides has been initiated in the hostels to counter the pest infestation. That’s the best way to reduce their evildoing rather than installing a wire mesh.
MM: Recently, it has been observed that you have been doing rounds in the mess of all halls. What has been your observation?
I had received some complaints regarding the food being really oily and tasteless. So, I personally went to check and observed that the food isn’t as bad as the feedback I got from students. Also, the workers are maintaining hygiene and cleanliness. To be honest, the quality, quantity and hygiene have improved a lot compared to the days when I was a student in this institute. In fact, the best quality rice like India Gate is being used.
MM: There’s a lot of space behind the two blocks in HB hall. How is the institute going to utilise that vacant space?
CW: In the previous year, on the day of foundation of HB hall, our ex-Director, Mr. Sunil Sarangi, announced that there will be new blocks constructed in the vacant space behind the blocks. There are plans to convert HB hostel into a 1000 seater hostel. Construction regarding the same will be initiated in the near future.