The Sordid Tale of the Dilapidated Fortress

The Sordid Tale of the Dilapidated Fortress

Feb 06, 2017 | Satyajit Mahapatra Anubhav Kar

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Homi Bhaba Hall of Residence has always featured in the lower rungs of the students’ expectations. Being one of the smallest halls of residence, the enforcement of single rooms was a welcome change for the boarders owing to the unbearable living constraints. Although, it is the only hall which has, in principle, all the facilities and provisions, their credibility and functionality narrate a different tale altogether. Ranging from stinking toilets to a shabby reading room, there is a plethora of issues plaguing the sanctity of the hall. Team MM took a peek into some of the prominent issues affecting the boarders and also the possible action-plan for the future.

Boarding: -

H.B. Hall has the smallest rooms in the campus. Unlike other halls, the rooms in H.B. do not have a proper tile flooring. The walls of almost every room in the hostel have been smeared with graffiti and hand paintings. The rooms particularly in the B Block always remain at elevated temperatures and get extremely hot during the summers. Moreover, pigeons often nest in the windows of the rooms particularly in the B block creating an unhygienic atmosphere for the boarders. Though there are a few rooms with wire mesh for countering the problem but it still does not prevent the winged craniate from soiling the window sills.

Though the rooms used to accommodate two people in the previous years, all the rooms in the hall have been converted to single seaters effective from 2016-17 academic year, courtesy of the efforts by the erstwhile Chief Warden Prof S.K. Patel.

Maintenance secretary Ashutosh Prince says,

A request for installing tiles in the room has been presented by us in the HMC meeting. However, the decision regarding the same is awaited.

Mess: -

The mess facilities in H.B. is one of the finest in the campus. The quality of the food served as well as the variety are both top-notch. The cleanliness of the utensils is fairly satisfactory and any instance of a shabby plate hasn’t been noticed yet. The mess is cleaned regularly and efficiently.

The mess, however has its mixed tale to tell. The fans and the bug zappers, which were not functional, have been repaired in the past one month. The exhaust fans have also been replaced. A power back up system has been provided in the mess as well. The new menu implemented in recent time is also a cause of dissatisfaction among the boarders as not many people are happy with it. However, with the onset of the winter season and the increased availability of vegetables has helped in putting together a very good menu. The unpopular decision to remove coffee from the menu has rendered the boarders helpless.

All differences apart, the mess performs very efficiently catering to the HB crowd.

Health and Hygiene

The hostel’s performance is pitiable in this field. The toilets are unhygienic to the core. None of the bathrooms have a shower head. The water supply too is erratic and it runs out faster in the B block than in the A block. Apart from a few new installations, most of the doors in the bathrooms and the toilets do not shut properly and cause inconvenience to the boarders. Bolts in many bathrooms do not work properly. The exhaust fans though present in all bathrooms and toilets are dysfunctional leading to unbearable stench at times. Provisions for a central water heating system has been made in the B block while A block is yet to receive such amenities and relies on the hardware installed in each bathroom, which sparing a few are mostly out of operation. Overflowing urinals and toilets add more sorrow to the misery.

Toilets in Block-B

 

Toilet No:

 

Bathroom Doors

Toilet Doors

Wash Basins

Urinals

 

B-103

 

1/3

0/3

3/3

2/2

B-102

0/3

0/3

 

3/3

 

2/2

 

B-101

 

1/3

1/3

2/3

2/2

 

B-203

 

2/3

2/3

3/3

2/2

 

B-202

 

1/3

0/3

3/3

1/2

 

B-201

 

1/3

1/3

1/3

0/2

 

B-303

 

2/3

3/3

3/3

2/2

 

B-302

 

 

1/3

 

0/3

 

3/3

 

1/2

 

B-301

 

0/3

0/3

3/3

1/2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toilets in Block-A

 

Toilet No:

 

 

Bathroom

Doors

Toilet Doors

Wash Basins

Urinals

 

A-109

 

3/3

0/3

3/3

0/2

 

A-108

 

3/3

3/3

3/3

2/2

A-107

3/3

3/3

 

3/3

 

1/2

A-106

 

0/3

 

0/3

2/3

2/2

 

A-105

 

3/3

3/3

2/3

2/2

 

A-104

 

1/3

1/3

3/3

2/2

 

A-103

 

2/3

2/3

2/3

2/2

 

A-102

 

3/3

3/3

3/3

2/2

 

A-101

 

1/3

3/3

3/3

1/2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 






Note: - The table lists the number of working apparatus in every toilet. Any door that has broken joints, broken hinges or does not shut properly has been included in the list.

The cleaning of the toilets is of very ordinary quality. It mainly involves mopping of the floor between the toilets and the bathrooms and nothing further. The wash basins and toilet pans are cleaned after long intervals making the interim periods unbearable for the boarders. Use of phenyl to clean the toilets is an amenity the boarders cannot avail. Leaking ceilings in the corridor especially on the first floor create a lot of inconvenience to the boarders. 

Dogs are found loitering in the hall premises. Though the hall has overhead bins installed everywhere, there are waste baskets that are placed along the corridors, which act as feeding grounds for the dogs thus causing problems for the boarders.

The boarders are also plagued with insect infestation to a great extent. The clearing and mowing of the unwanted grass inside the hall premises is irregular causing inconvenience to the boarders. Every bathroom and toilet especially in the B block are overcrowded with insects and butterflies in the morning causing inconvenience for the morning larks. The primary reason for insect infestation is the vast expanse of shrubbery behind the blocks which serve as a conducive breeding ground for mosquitos and other pests. The backyards are cleared sporadically which leads to severe insect infestation especially during the rainy season. Further, there is no spraying of insecticides and pesticides in the hall premises which has also contributed to the insect infestation. Mosquito repellents are however spayed once a week.

The lawn in H.B. Hall is probably one of its major highlights. The lawn maintenance is commendable. Many boarders term it as the most soothing experience of being in H.B. Hall.

Regarding problems related to hygiene, maintenance secretary, Ashutosh Prince says

I have personally submitted the list of all the doors to be repaired at the chief warden’s office. However, despite numerous requests the issues are yet to receive any attention from the authorities concerned. The work for installation of new tiles in the toilets has been completed. As far as cleaning is concerned, if a boarder is not satisfied with the state of hygiene in the hostel he can contact me and necessary steps will be taken. As far as geysers are concerned students should realise their responsibility and operate the geysers sensibly and switch them off after their use. Even in B-Block where there is a central water heating system the caretaker doesn’t switch off the apparatus after the rush hours which can damage the coils.

Prof. V. Shivkumar, Warden, H.B. Hall Of Residence says,

We have repeatedly filed complaints with the Estate office regarding the installation of new doors in the toilets and bathrooms. However, because of reasons unknown our requests have not yet been entertained, but I will still pursue this issue in the next HMC meeting. As far revamping the backyard is concerned, Prof. Sunil Sarangi had planned to extend the hall for two more blocks. However, that is a long-term objective. For the near future we are planning to utilize the backyard to make a sports complex so that the boarders can play cricket or football.

Recreation and Sports: -

The hall boasts of a large reading hall to cater to the academic interests of the boarders. However, it is very inadequately furnished with only two sofas and a reading table. The daily newspapers however are deposited regularly in the reading hall.

Prof. V. Shivkumar, Warden, H.B. Hall Of Residence says,

I haven’t witnessed any such spike in students demand regarding the use of sofas in the reading room. If I receive any such demand from the boarders, I will definitely purchase more sofas for the reading room.

The hostel currently has one table tennis table, one badminton court and one volleyball arena. A healthy percentage of sports item, which were quoted last semester, have been procured. However, a number of items are still awaiting delivery. Sports secretary Rakesh Kumar says,

We are still awaiting delivery of certain sport items from stores like JJ Sports and Omm Sports. We are however hopeful to get the delivery soon.

Speaking about the sports equipment that were available from the last year he said that

I was given two bats and few tennis balls and three footballs by the caretaker as the sports equipment from last year. As there was no list kept it is difficult to ascertain the total number of items present.

The plans for allotting a special room for sports equipment is in the pipeline. However final decision regarding that will be taken only after the arrival of all the goods.

The hostel gym served as a benchmark and was an epitome of fitness during its inception. However, a lot of the equipment have given in over the years. The maintenance work regarding the same has been started, however and is expected to be completed soon. Enquiring about the same with the General Secretary Arun Kumar, he says,

The progress of the maintenance and repair work has been satisfactory. Quotation for new equipment has been sent and goods are expected to arrive soon. We have identified a vendor who can sell us the required equipment; however we are waiting for the confirmation from the authorities to proceed with the purchase.

Speaking about the same with Prof V. Shivkumar, Warden H.B. Hall, he opines,

We are planning to combine the sports room and the gym and relocate them to the empty room adjacent to the reading hall on the first floor. We just need some cooperation from the boarders who need to be more responsible in handling public properties. Buying is not an issue when compared with the pain of maintaining the same.

The music room in H.B. Hall of Residence was shut down after ISM-2015, owing to the mismanagement and loss of certain instruments. Speaking to Prof. V. Shivkumar, Warden H.B. Hall about the possibility of putting together a music room again he said

I am aware of the music room that existed in the hostel previously and aware of the fine collected as well. However, we are considering issues like maintenance and safety of the instruments procured and working on identifying a location that could house the potential music room.

Miscellaneous but Essential

The hostel has been on the receiving end of several miscellaneous maladies. During a downpour, the corridors along the balconies are inundated with rain water. The boarders living in proximity have to bear the brunt.

The lights installed near the volleyball and the badminton court are placed at high altitudes rendering them as completely redundant for the night games. However, the installation of new lights alongside the nets has helped the badminton players to continue their games, especially during the wee hours.

The night canteen is not located inside the hostel leading boarders to face problems regarding quick accessibility during late hours. The food served in the night canteen is of decent quality. However, the night canteen does not have a rate chart which often leads to ambiguity in the price of various commodities.

Two aqua guards are present in all the floors, which are in working condition. However, the water coolers, which are pivotal during the unbearable Rourkela summer do not work at two places.

Fire safety is one front where the hall performs miserably. The hall has only two fire extinguishers out of which only one is in ready to use state.

The UPS is not functional at many LAN hubs causing disruption in the internet service as soon as the power goes down. However, the General Secretary has assured that necessary steps regarding the same will be taken very soon.

Recent Initiatives

The HAIF money has been put to good use with the installation of a couple of curtains in every room. A large-scale white washing project has been undertaken to whitewash the rooms as per the voluntary enrolment of the students. The enrolment for the same was done in the previous semester. However due to bureaucratic hindrances and inability to vacate rooms owing to the proximity of the exams, the whitewashing could not be initiated. It has been in progress however with the onset of the current semester. New buckets have been procured and have replaced their broken counterparts in the toilets.

In addition to this, titles have been installed near the watercoolers catering to the dilapidated walls. Broken urinal partitions have been repaired as well. The toilets and the partitions amongst the bathrooms have been interspersed with titles. However, the purpose it serves is of a dubious nature. 

A storeroom for housing cleaning stuff has been constructed below the staircase in C Block. Moreover, the railings of the all the staircases have been painted over as well.

Speaking on the utilisation of HAIF money in the hall, Prof. V.Shivkumar, Warden H.B. Hall of Residence says,

We have spent a sum of about 11, 00,000 INR for the installation of curtains in the rooms. Apart from that, we have installed a cooler in A-Block. We have also requested for another aqua guard for A-Block. If that request is granted, we will install another cooler in the A-Block as well. We have brought a geyser for A-Block as well as repaired a few geysers as well.

Adding to the above comments, he said,

We can also install a backup generator for the hostel considering the approaching summer season. However, I am not quite sure about the rules governing the maximum diesel utilisation for a particular institution. I will however raise this issue in the HMC meeting.

With the aforementioned problems in sight, there are hopes and reassurances of a better future. Only with the passage of time, will the changes manifest into reality ushering the hall into realms of splendour.

Halls

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